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How to discuss child-support modification with an ex

The costs of raising a child can be substantial and often change over time. A supporting parent who pays child support on time ensures that the needs of the child are met. Sometimes, though, a parent can be upset when asked to either increase or decrease the support.

A court computes the amount of child support based on different factors, such as both parents' incomes and the needs of the child. However, if a child has unforeseen expenses that are not covered in the divorce agreement, the custodial parent may request an increase. Conversely, if a supporting parent has unexpected expenses or a decrease in income, then he or she may request a decrease.

Requests to change the amount of child support sometimes spark disputes between divorced parents. Both should keep in mind that their common goal should be meeting their child's needs, and that it is important to discuss the issue coolly and without assigning blame.

To make it easier for an ex-spouse to consider child-support modification, it is important to involve him or her in an open manner. This ensures that any change will be a joint decision that will benefit the child.

A question can be a good conversation starter to constructively engage an ex-spouse. It can allow the other spouse to see that an effort is being made to put the issue in perspective in an empathetic way. Expressing appreciation for receiving or giving child support on time or being sympathetic to why support might be delayed is also important. Nonetheless, supporting facts should be clearly stated for any requested increase or decrease in support.

A child's needs should be the main priority for divorced spouses. Experts can help if intervention is necessary to ensure that the issue will be resolved faster and with fewer emotions involved.

Source: CNN Money, "How to Discuss Money with an Ex," Ismat Sarah Mangla, Nov. 18, 2013

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