The term “severe economic hardship” can be relevant in child support cases in a few different circumstances. If a parent or child is experiencing a severe economic hardship, that can be a basis for the court to modify an order of child support. Economic hardship to the parent receiving child support may be a factor in determining how much the other parent is required to pay. Also, economic hardship may be a basis for the court to increase child support in steps, as opposed to all at once.
There is no exact definition of economic hardship. It is a condition that depends on the specific circumstances of each case. However, if an economic hardship is self-created it likely will not be a basis to modify child support or use a graduated increase. Self-created hardships may include voluntarily quitting a job, or reducing work hours to part time. On the other hand, involuntary financial situations such as may be caused by a medical emergency, or layoff, may be a basis for modification of child support.