Modification of Child Support

Modification of Child Support

Filing for a Modification of Child Support in Nebraska -

Each district court has specific local rules that may apply in your case. Check with the Clerk of the District Court in your county. If you fail to follow the local rules, you may not be able to finish your case.

If you are representing yourself you must fill out all the forms. The clerk of the district court cannot help you fill out any legal forms.

Modifying a child support order can be complicated.  Representing yourself in such cases may not be appropriate or wise. Although it is up to you to decide whether and how you use a lawyer in your modification, the law does allow you to request a modification without a lawyer.  Another option is to hire a lawyer to do only part of your case.  This is called Limited Scope Representation.  To find out more about Limited Scope Representation click on this link: https://supremecourt.nebraska.gov/limited-scope-representation or here http://nefindalawyer.com/.

A substantial amount of personal information is needed when completing modification forms.  It is best to gather all of the information you will need before you begin the process. A copy of the most recent child support order in your case may have a great deal of the information that you will need.  Use the Modification Worksheet to gather your information:

Worksheet: Modification of Child Support DC 6:14(3)

Introduction

A child support order includes the monthly child support obligation, the obligation to carry health insurance, and the obligation to provide child care expenses.

You should understand that these forms and instructions are intended only for modifying a previously entered child support order where:

  • The income of the person obligated to pay child support has increased or decreased.

    • Applying the child support guidelines to the change in income would result in a variation by 10% or more, but not less than $25.00, upward or downward;   AND

    • The financial circumstances have lasted 3 months and can reasonably be expected to last for an additional 6 months.

      • If you want your child support lowered, you have to prove that the decrease in your earnings was not your fault, e.g., you didn’t quit a job.

        OR

      • The cost of health insurance available to the person obligated to carry the health insurance has substantially increased or decreased.

        OR

      • The cost of childcare expenses to the person obligated to pay them has substantially increased or decreased.

NOTE: UNLESS YOU MEET AT LEAST ONE OF THESE REQUIREMENTS YOU SHOULD NOT ATTEMPT TO MODIFY YOUR CHILD SUPPORT USING THESE FORMS AND INSTRUCTIONS, AND YOU SHOULD NOT PROCEED WITHOUT THE HELP OF A LAWYER.  

Facts About Filing for Child Support Modification in Nebraska

  • You start the legal process by filing a Complaint for Modification of Child Support with the clerk of the district court in the county where the original order for child support was entered.

  • There is a cost to file a Complaint for Modification of Child Support.

  • The case number assigned to the original action must be included on all documents you file with the court in the future.

  • If you are filing for a child support modification without a lawyer, you must complete all the necessary forms. The clerk of the district court cannot help you prepare any legal documents and can provide only limited information about the process.

  • Once you have filed your Complaint for Modification of Child Support, it is important that you inform the clerk of the district court of any address changes. If your address is confidential under Nebraska or Federal law, provide only the county and state and provide an alternative address for mailing of notice.

  • You must submit a Financial Affidavit for Child Support at the time you file the Complaint and you must give the court a proposed Child Support Calculation at the hearing.  

  • If you are requesting a change on the health insurance obligation, you must submit proof of the cost of health insurance for you alone and the cost of health insurance for your child(ren).

  • Health care costs include coverage for medical, dental, orthodontic, optometric, substance abuse, and mental health treatment.

  • A parent’s support, childcare, and health care obligation shall not reduce his or her net income below the poverty guidelines. https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines.

  • In very low income cases, a minimum support of $50, or 10% of the obligor’s net income, whichever is greater, per month may be set.

Forms and Filing Forms

Forms

Complete list of forms and instructions.

Filing the forms

What must you take to the clerk of the district court to file a modification of child support?

What happens once the forms are filed?

  • The clerk of the district court will re-open your old file.

  • You must officially tell your child’s other parent that you have filed the Complaint. This “official” notice is called “service of process.”  You can give the other party official notice by agreement, in the form of a Voluntary Appearance, or by filling out a request for a Summons. A request for a Summons is called a “Praecipe.”
    • Voluntary Appearance. The other party can accept service by signing a voluntary appearance form. Here is what you do.
      • Follow these Instructions to complete the voluntary appearance form.
      • Give the other party the Voluntary Appearance form and a copy of the Complaint.
      • Have the other party sign the Voluntary Appearance form and either return it to you or file it with the court. The other party keeps the copy of the Complaint for Modification.
      • File the signed Voluntary Appearance form with the clerk of the district court, unless the other party has already done so.
    • Praecipe for Summons. You can have the other party served by the sheriff.

            When you live in the same county as the other parent, here is how you do it.

  • Follow these Instructions to complete the Praecipe (pronounced “pray-si-pee”) for Summons.
  • File the Praecipe for Summons with the clerk of the district court where you filed your Complaint.
  • Call the clerk or local sheriff to find out how much it costs to have the sheriff serve the other party. Take a money order for this amount made out to the sheriff with you when you file the Praecipe.
    • If the court granted your Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, you do not have to pay this fee.
  • The clerk will write up a Summons. Then the clerk will send the Summons, Complaint and money order to the sheriff. The sheriff will try to serve the other party with the Summons and Complaint.
    • This is an example where each district court may have specific local rules. Check with the clerk of the district court in your county to be sure this is the way the county that you filed in gives the Summons to the sheriff.
  • The Summons tells the other party that you have filed the Complaint and when the other party must file an Answer.
  • If the judge granted your Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, attach a copy of that Order to the Praecipe.

 

Does it make a difference if the other party and I live in different counties?

 

              If the other party signs a Voluntary Appearance form, the answer is “no.”

              If you are asking the sheriff to serve the other party, the answer is “yes.”

             If the other party lives or works in a different county in Nebraska or in a state other than Nebraska, here is what you do:

  • Pick up the Summons from the clerk once it is ready. Ask the clerk when you file the Praecipe how long it will take to prepare the Summons and how to find out when it is ready.
  • Call the sheriff's office for the county where your child's other parent lives. 
    • Find out how much it costs to serve the Summons. 
    • Find out how to pay the sheriff for serving the Summons.  The sheriff will want payment in advance. 
    • If the court approved the Application to Proceed in Forma Pauperis, ask the sheriff's office if they will serve the papers without payment in advance.
  • You will mail the Summons and a copy of the complaint to the sheriff for the county where your child's other parent lives.
    • Include a letter explaining to the sheriff that the Summons and a copy of the Complaint must be personally served on the other party before the "return date" on the Summons.
    • Include a self-addressed envelope.

The sheriff will try to serve the other party. The sheriff will return documents to you with a "return of service." The return of service will state whether the other party was served. You must file this paperwork with the court, even if the other party was not served.           

What Happens after the Other Party is Served?

The other party has 30 days after being served to file a written response to your Complaint. The written response is called an “Answer.” (If the other party signed a Voluntary Appearance, the 30 days begin to run the day after the Voluntary Appearance is filed with the court.) The other party does not have to file an Answer, but is entitled to do so if the other party so chooses.

You cannot ask for a final hearing until after these 30 days have passed.

 NOTE: YOU MUST SERVE THE OTHER PARTY (OR FILE A VOLUNTARY APPEARANCE SIGNED BY THE OTHER PARTY) WITHIN SIX (6) MONTHS OF WHEN YOU FILE YOUR COMPLAINT FOR MODIFICATION OF CHILD SUPPORT. IF YOU DO NOT SERVE THE OTHER PARTY OR FILE A VOLUNTARY APPEARANCE SIGNED BY THE OTHER PARTY WITHIN SIX (6) MONTHS OF THE TIME YOU FILE YOUR COMPLAINT FOR MODIFICATION OF CHILD SUPPORT, YOUR CASE WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE DISMISSED AND YOU WILL HAVE TO START OVER AGAIN.

Other Party's Filing of Answer and Counterclaim for Modification of Parenting Plan

If you are the responding party in this case for Modifiction of Child Support, you can file an Answer and Counterclaim for Modification of Child Support(DC 6:15(7))  using the Instructions for Completing the Answer and Counterclaim for Modification of Child Support (DC 6:15(7a)).

After you have signed the original Answer and Counterclaim for Modification of Child Support, you must file it with the clerk.  Make sure to fill out the information requested in the Certificate of Service at the bottom of the last page of the Answer and Counterclaim and sign the Certificate of Service before you file the original Answer and Counterclaim with the clerk of the district court.

Make two copies of the Answer and Counterclaim for Modification of Child Support after you have signed it but before you file it with the court.  Send one of those copies to the other party by first-class mail, and keep the other copy for your files.

Requesting a Hearing Date

You must contact the clerk of the district court to ask about how to get a hearing date and time in your modification case, since different courts have different procedures.

A.  Notice of hearing to the other party

  • Once you are given a hearing date and time, you must tell the other party when the hearing will be held.Prepare a Notice of Hearing (DC 6:4(5)) using the Instructions for Completing the Notice of Hearing (DC 6:4(5a)).  When you have completed the Notice of Hearing, follow these steps:

    • You must sign the original Notice of Hearing and file it with the clerk of the district court. Make sure to fill out the information requested in the Certificate of Service at the bottom of the Notice of Hearing.

    • Sign the Notice and the Certificate of Service before you file the original Notice of Hearing with the clerk of the district court.

    • Make two copies of the Notice of Hearing after you have signed it but before you file it with the court. Send one of those copies to the other party by first-class mail to the address where they were served, unless that address is not their home address.If that address is not their home address, or you know that they have moved, send Notice of Hearing to their current home address.Keep the other copy for your files.

    • Make certain to check with the clerk about how far ahead of the hearing date you need to file the Notice of Hearing with the clerk’s office.

B. Financial information

The court must decide if the child support originally ordered should be modified.  In Nebraska, the courts use Child Support Guidelines to determine the amount of child support to order. In order for the court to use the Guidelines, it must have certain financial information about each party. The Financial Affidavit for Child Support will provide the court with that financial information.

  • Parties are required to come to their court hearing with a completed child support calculation. A Nebraska lawyer has developed a child support calculator (Advanced Legal Software, Omaha) and has given permission for individuals representing themselves to use the child support calculator free for 5 days. Users will have to create a password and understand the terms of use before using this .

  • Once you have completed the child support calculation, put it with the papers you will take with you to court. The court will use the information to determine whether a modification of child support should be ordered.

C.  Bring to the hearing

You must also bring the following paperwork with you to your modification hearing:

The Hearing

  • Arrive at your hearing at least 15 minutes before the hearing is scheduled. Once you arrive at the courthouse or justice center, you should ask the clerk of the district court how to let the judge know that you are there for your hearing.

  • You must go to the hearing at the courthouse or justice center and testify (talk under oath) about your modification.

  • During or before your testimony, ask the court reporter to “mark” the child support worksheet as an exhibit. You will offer his exhibit to the court during your testimony.

  • Once you have testified, the judge will decide if you will get a modification and if the Order of Modification of Child Support that you prepared is done correctly.

  • If the judge signs the Order that means that the judge has decided to modify the prior child support order.

  • If the judge signs the order, the judge also will sign the copies of the Order and give them to you.

  • If you want an official ("certified") copy, you should ask the clerk of the district court how to get one and what the cost will be to get one.

  • If you do not appear at the hearing, your case may be dismissed and you will have to start over again.  If you know in advance that you will be unable to appear, contact the court.