A Change in Your Circumstances May Also Result in a Change in Your Support Order

June 5, 2023 | By Marcelina R. Policicchio

Support orders may be modified by either party at any time as long as there is a material and substantial change in circumstances. However, when a party seeks to modify a support order, the party who wants to modify the order has the burden of proving that an ongoing and material change has occurred since the entry of the existing order. To meet this burden, the party requesting the change must prove that a substantial fact that existed when the order was entered has since changed and will continue to be different moving forward. So, what types of changes are considered for the purposes of a modification?

The most commonly considered factors include:

  • A significant change in income of either party, whether the change is the result of an increase or decrease in income
  • A child turning 18 and graduating from high school
  • The incarceration of one of the parties
  • A significant change in the custody schedule
  • Changes to a child’s health-related needs, such as a child becoming ill, disabled, or requiring continuing medical expenses (more information on what types of medical expenses are covered under a support order can be located here)
  • Changes to a child’s educational or social needs, such as a child starting school or a significant adjustment in childcare or extracurricular activity costs
  • The discovery of new continuing health problems or the disability of a party
  • A change in living circumstances, such as the parties reconciling and moving in together
  • The settlement of economic claims and issuance of a decree which would result in the termination of alimony pendente lite or spousal support (an explanation of the differences between these two types of awards and how they differ can be located here)

When a party seeks to modify a support order, the court will consider the relevant evidence and base its decision upon the facts which reflect whether the party making the request did or did not meet their burden of proof. Oftentimes, to be successful in a request to modify a support order a party will be required to provide comprehensive financial documents such as tax returns, pay stubs, invoices, and receipts for the court to review and consider. If a party provides written documentation that proves a material and substantial change has occurred, it is more likely that the court will enter a new order.

It is important to keep in mind that in most cases a new support order will only become effective as of the date the petition requesting the modification is filed. Therefore, it is important for the party seeking to modify an existing order to gather documentation that supports the claim for the modification and file the modification petition as soon as possible after the change has occurred.

Support cases require complex analysis of various factors, as well as the production of extensive exhibits and the preparation of supportive legal arguments. If you have questions related to a modification of your support order, please contact a member of our team to determine what steps you should take based on your individual circumstances.

The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied on as such. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys.

About the Authors

Marcelina Policicchio - Pittsburgh family law attorney

Marcelina R. Policicchio


Pittsburgh Family Law Attorney Marcelina divides her time between family law and business transactional work. As a Pittsburgh family law attorney, her family law practice primarily includes matters such as adoption, custody,...

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