When your divorce involves children, you may agree to certain terms to keep the peace. These include child support payments, which are vital to their survival and well-being. But they may place a burden upon you, and you might feel that their amount does not reflect what you can afford to pay. This could sting even more if your financial circumstances change.

Continuing child support payments is nonnegotiable. But there’s no reason doing so should put you in peril. Consider these tips when modifying your support arrangement

When your circumstances change

You may want to modify your child support payments if your financial circumstances have changed. You may have lost your job or moved into a lower-paying position. In these circumstances, your ability to pay the original support amount could diminish. Make sure you document these changes with the court where your current order is upheld.

When modification becomes difficult

Some former spouses are understanding toward changes in circumstance. But yours might bristle at your request for support modification. They could accuse you of evading support. And they may petition the court to hold you in contempt. Before this becomes a possibility, consider pursuing mediation. An impartial, third party adviser can help draft an agreement that considers your financial changes.

When the headaches persist

Your attempts at modification and mediation may prove futile. And you still may find yourself unable to make full support payments. If so, you could face wage garnishment or jail time. In this case, you may have to petition the court again to modify your support arrangement. And working with a family law professional can help you determine how to prevent these consequences when you cannot pay.

Determining child support can be one of the most fraught parts of divorce. When your circumstances change, you may fear for your finances. But knowing what steps to take can help you protect them in the long run.