No one can predict the future, and circumstances in life can change suddenly and unexpectedly. Florida family law courts understand this and allow parents to modify child support orders if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Under Florida, child support law §61.13, both parents have the right to request a modification of child support. The modification can be to either increase or decrease the required amount of child support.
Modifying Child Support In Florida
If there has been a substantial change in circumstances, support may be modified. The judge will only be concerned with changes that occurred after the prior case. Issues that arose before the initial case will usually not be considered for modifications. This is true even if there are facts that were not discussed in the prior case. Typically, judges will only be interested in changes since the last order was issued.
For instance, if a parent has encountered an increase or decrease in income, support may be modified. Generally, there will need to be at least a 10% change in income to qualify as a substantial change. Even if you had a decrease in income, that does not automatically mean support payments will decrease. For instance, the opposing party may have also had a reduction in income, and that decrease may be more significant. Thus, it is recommended to discuss all the case facts with an attorney before filing for a modification. A thorough review will likely be necessary to develop a successful plan to lower child support payments.
Generally, the more time a parent spends with the child, the lower their support payments. Therefore, if the amount of overnight stays with the children is modified, support may need to be adjusted accordingly. Support may also need to be modified if the timesharing arrangement has changed. See Bloom v. Panchysyn.
Obtaining a Modification of a Child Support Order
Child support obligations are regulated by the court and cannot be changed without court approval. In order to modify a child support arrangement, the party seeking the modification must prove to the court that there has been a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances. In addition, the party requesting the change will have to show the modification is in the best interest of the child. This can be difficult without experienced, skilled legal representation. If you want to request a modification or dispute a proposed modification, you should contact a family law attorney for assistance.
In order to obtain a modification of a child support order from a Florida family law court, there must be a substantial change in circumstances that could not be predicted or foreseen at the time that the original child support order was issued. Examples of possible unpredicted or unforeseen grounds for a modification include:
- The economic hardship of a parent
- Health care expenses of the parent or child
- The increased cost of living
- Disability of a parent or child
- Sudden financial windfall or higher-paying job
Losing a job may also be valid grounds to modify a child support order. Unemployment may temporarily stop or lower a parent’s child support obligations. However, the loss of employment must be done in good faith. Intentionally quitting a job or taking a lowering-paying job for no reason other than to request a child support modification will not be seen as valid grounds for modification. On the other hand, if a parent obtains new employment with a higher salary or other forms of increased compensation, a court may order an increase in child support payments.
Consult With a Child Support Lawyer in Florida
Regardless of whether you need help modifying an existing child support order or contesting a modification, Florida Law Advisers, P.A., can help. The Florida child support lawyers at our law firm have years of experience helping clients in all types of child custody modification matters. We know what it takes to obtain a child support modification and we continue to aggressively protect our clients both in and outside the courtroom.
Frequently Asked Questions
In order to modify an existing child support order there must be a substantial change in circumstances. If there has been a substantial change, a petition to modify child support should be filed with the court. The change will not become effective until it is approved by the court.
If the other parent earns more income since the last child support case, you may be able to file a petition to modify/increase the amount of support. Additionally, spending more time with the child may also be grounds to modify/increase child support.
In order to change a child support order, there must be a substantial change in circumstances. If there has been a substantial change, a petition to modify child support should be filed with the court. The change will not become effective until it is approved by the court.