Although the law with respect to child support modification varies considerably by state, generally, before a court will modify a child support order, the requesting parent is often required to show that changed circumstances legitimately warrant the modification. Without this requirement, frequent, repeated and arbitrary requests for modification would burden the already overcrowded court system, as well as the non-custodial parent.

The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act

While some states have implemented child support modification standards derived from judicial decisions, other states have implemented statutory provisions that closely resemble the language set forth by the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act (UMDA). According to the text of the UMDA, a child support order may be modified, with few exceptions, “only upon a showing of changed circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms unconscionable.” Consider the following examples of state legislation:

Arizona: “Substantial and continuing change of circumstances”
Idaho: “Substantial and material change of circumstances”
Pennsylvania: “Material and substantial change in circumstances”
Typically, the parent requesting the modification has the burden of proving the change in circumstances.