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Do you need a cost of living clause in your child support order?

For many people dealing with divorce or the family law issues that arise after a separation, goals are often "here-and-now" oriented. If you are leaving a long-term relationship, regardless of how that relationship ended, you might be facing a scary new journey. While dealing with issues of new housing, new incomes and how to keep your kids healthy and happy while everything around them is changing, it's easy to settle for an answer that seems to work right now.

It's important to consider answers that are going to work long-term, though, and know that life will continue to change. Even after divorce, life will have ups and downs and unexpected turn-arounds, and it's true that you can't always plan for all those occurrences. What you can do is make a plan now that at least factors in the expectation that things will change.

One step toward making such a plan is including a cost of living clause, or COLA, in your child support order. Sometimes, these clauses are included automatically by the court, but if you are negotiating your own support options, consider including a COLA in the process.

A COLA ensures that as costs of living or incomes go up, child support payments are similarly impacted. COLAs can be appropriate if the person making support payments works in a field where annual cost of living increases are the norm, such as in the military. You might also include a requirement that support payments increase proportionally to the cost of living index.

Like anything in a child support order, COLAs aren't set in stone, If things change — whether you are the person receiving support or paying it — you can return to court to petition for a new order. Understanding how to seek answers for your needs through family law tools now and protect yourself and your kids through the law in the future is important, which is one reason to work with an experienced lawyer.

Source: Divorced Moms, "5 Things You Need to Know About Child Support," accessed Aug. 18, 2016

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