How to Compose a Hardship Letter for Child Support

By Mike Broemmel

Updated July 21, 2017

Gavel in court room

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Limited situations exist in which you can pursue a reduction in your child support obligation due to some sort of hardship, a situation that impacts your overall financial situation, according to the American Bar Association Section of Family Law. The initial stage of this process is composing a hardship letter, a document explaining your situation to the court and how it impacts your ability to satisfy an existing child support obligation.

Address the hardship letter to the judge who issued the initial child support order.

Set forth the specific hardship that motivates your request to seek a suspension, reduction or even elimination of your child support obligation. For example: you lost your job and possess no reasonable employment opportunity at this time.

State explicitly that the hardship is through no fault of your own: using the employment example, that you lost your job through no fault of your own and that you are not intentionally unemployed.

Set forth the specific relief you desire from the court and sign the letter.

Go to the clerk of the court and obtain a motion to amend child support order form. The clerk maintains a selection of forms used by people without attorneys in child support proceedings.

Complete the motion form, following the directions provided by the court clerk.

Attach the hardship letter as an exhibit to the motion. File the motion and letter with the clerk of the court. Mail a copy of both documents to the other parent.


A court is far more likely to temporarily suspend your child support obligation than take action to reduce the amount previously ordered or to eliminate the requirement altogether. In other words, the court relieves you of a present obligation to pay child support. However, the amount otherwise due continues to accrue as an obligation you must satisfy at a future date when and if the hardship passes.


Dealing with child support-related issues requires a substantial understanding of applicable law and your state's child support guidelines. Retain the services of an experience attorney to assist you in pursuing a change in your child support status because of a hardship. The American Bar Associations provides resources to assist you in finding legal representation. These include contact information for organizations that provide no-cost legal representation to people unable to afford private counsel.