Family law judges in Louisiana may modify child support orders when the amount of support deviates from state guidelines by 25% or more or when there has been a substantial and material change in the circumstances of one or both of the parents. Child support orders are most commonly modified when a parent’s income has increased or decreased significantly, the cost of the child’s health insurance coverage has risen or fallen or the child no longer lives with the parent who had primary custody at the time of the original order.
Requests to modify child support orders in Louisiana are made by the state’s Department of Children and Family Services. Before making a modification request, staff from the agency’s Child Support Enforcement section conduct a review. During this review, CSE staff verify the employment status and incomes of both the custodial and noncustodial parent along with any other relevant information. Parents can request to have child support orders reviewed after three years have passed, but such requests are unlikely to lead to a modification if CSE staff do not notice a change in circumstances.
Louisiana provides parents with several ways to request a child support order review. They can request a review online by visiting the DCFS website, or they can contact the DCFS directly either by phone or by using the agency’s Child Support Enforcement Message Center. Parents can also print out and submit a form requesting a review or file papers with the clerk of the court where the original order was issued. Documents that the DCFS will need to process modification requests include:
• Proof of income, such as paystubs.
• Health insurance policies and bills.
• Records of medical, educational and health care expenses.
• A list of other child care costs.
Parents who plan to request a child support review may be wise to consult with an experienced family law attorney before taking action. This is because parents who seek to modify child support orders without good cause can be ordered to pay court costs and the other parent’s legal expenses. Attorneys could scrutinize the original child support order, assess the circumstances of both parents and then provide advice about the most prudent way to proceed.