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The Divorce Encyclopedia

Term Definition Hardship - a condition which causes a financial strain on the ability of a parent to support his or her children.
Application in Divorce When possible, courts try to avoid creating hardships for anyone, but no one can see the future. From time to time, a divorced person experiences an unforeseen event that drastically changes his or her circumstances and ability to pay child support. Job loss, serious illness or injury can work hardships, and courts recognize that they happen. Hardships can be temporary or permanent, and the courts consider the duration in making decisions.

A change in circumstance can work a hardship on either partner in a divorce -- the custodial and the noncustodial parent.

After a divorce, courts frequently entertain motions for a change in the amount of support paid by the noncustodial parent. Sometimes the custodial parent, who is usually the mother, contends that the amount of child support awarded at the time of the divorce is no longer adequate and that she now suffers a hardship; sometimes the noncustodial parent, who is usually the father, argues that an increase in his support works a hardship.

In divorce and family law, the term hardship is sometimes applied in connection with a continuing -- and extraordinary -- expense that exceeds everyday expenses and must be apportioned in some fairer way. For example, the cost of medical insurance, borne solely by the custodial parent, would be said to "work a hardship" if she or he is asked to pay it alone.

Courts have latitude in dealing with claims of hardship because the term is qualitative, although the dollar amounts are quantitative.

See also Change in Circumstance.

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