What docs to bring for Motion to Modify?
December 31, 2010 1:40 PM   Subscribe

What documentation should I bring to a court hearing for a "Motion to Modify" (child support)?

I know, YANAL, and popular responses would be I should talk to a lawyer, but I'm going to do this on my own. My financial circumstances have changed for the worse, my ex-spouse (I believe) has improved substantially, to the point where she's either making a little more than me or it's about the same. We have joint custody of our kids, and when consulting with a lawyer, I was told I could get my child support payment likely reduced if not eliminated.

We originally arrived at our child support agreement through a mediator and probably I should have consulted a lawyer to get a more fair settlement (as I paid child support, we split our assets 50/50, I paid for daycare, and she paid health insurance). The kids no longer need daycare and we were supposed to renegotiate the child support at some point, but never did. Well, we argued about it and yelled at each other, but nothing changed.

My goal is for each of us to simply split the cost of medical insurance and expenses.

As part of the Motion to Modify, I filled out a financial affidavit detailing my income, expenses, and obligations. I plan on bringing pay stubs, letter of termination (from old job), and letter of employment (from new job). What other documentation should I bring to the court to support this goal? Should I bring recent bills and bank statements?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would imagine you want to bring everything you possibly can. That doesn't mean you will show it all, but definitely bring it. Including paystubs, bills, bank statements from all of your accounts, 2009 W2s, 2010 W2s if they will be ready in time for whenever the hearing is. Definitely something showing year-to-date earnings for your new job.

Again, I wouldn't necessarily lay this all out on the table at the beginning, but being able to prove you're paying for what you say you're paying for and you're earning what you say you're earning seems like a good thing. If you have any evidence at all of what she's paying for or earning (emails where she says so, for example), I would bring that too.
posted by brainmouse at 1:47 PM on December 31, 2010

For each document you do end up bringing, remember to bring the original plus three copies (one for your ex, one for yourself, one for good luck).
posted by Eshkol at 1:51 PM on December 31, 2010

The materials the court demands varies wildly from state to state and even from county to county. Luckily, many counties have "Family Law Self Help Centers."

For instance, if you lived (or happen to live), in Orange County California you could go here and get help, including a class held twice day.

Go to your own counties court system and look for something similar; there almost definitely is. If there is not, depending on your financial status, you may qualify for help through one of your local legal aid societies.

Although the answer of brainmouse above is likely correct, you want to be sure that if your court demands some "magic" document, you have it.
posted by bswinburn at 3:50 PM on December 31, 2010

As you've surmised, you'll need evidence of your financial state. The more the better.

One thing I think you should do is see if your state or county has a calculator available (like this) or meet with a lawyer for an hour or so and make sure you aren't too far off in your expectations. It will be worth the money.

In any event, you should have some reasonably precise idea what you want the court to do for you - and which points you are able to give and take on.

Don't be made to feel bad about addressing this - part of being a parent is changing the structure to fit new circumstances. Keep your cool, lay out your case, and let the system work for you.

Well, we argued about it and yelled at each other, but nothing changed.

Don't do this any more*. Your job is to work with the other parent, not cajole, convince, educate, demand and so on. If you have a great idea and they won't work with you on it, then they can either work with you and a judge, or you'll just have to let it go.

I'm not trying to be condescending or whatever. Letting their obstinance be someone else's problem is incredibly liberating and will save you so many gray hairs and worry lines to boot.

* Yeah, I know. I fall for it too, sometimes. Keep your chin up and stay positive.

Good luck.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:20 PM on December 31, 2010

Mod note: From the OP:
Apparently in CT there are specific tables that are used in a computer program, based solely on our financial affidavits to determine the child support award. I originally went in with the idea that I'd pay 1/2 of medical insurance, but the mediator stated instead that the way the numbers turned out, I no longer needed to pay child support, and instead my ex-wife needed to pay me for child support.

I did not make copies of anything, but I did bring in originals of bills, pay stubs, and a 2004 tax return. None of these were needed, but probably would have been if my ex-wife knew what was coming! In the future if I need to go back to court, I will make multiple copies of everything, including the financial affidavit.

I urge anyone who becomes unemployed and is in a child support situation to go to court as soon as possible to file a motion to modify in order to change the child support financial arrangement.

Everyone had good answers and I appreciate the feedback to my anonymous question.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:29 PM on January 4, 2011

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