Child Support Modification in Florida: What You Should Know
The most important thing for anyone receiving or paying child support in Florida to know is that the child support order will remain effective and in full force until a court order modifies it. In other words, if any changes need to happen, you have to go through the court. It doesn’t matter if you’re the responsible parent and you need more money for your child or if you’re the one obligated to pay and you lose your job – payments stay the same unless you get them modified through the court.
Attempt to change things via some kind of verbal agreement between you and your child’s other parent can lead to huge legal problems – including the possibility of facing criminal charges.
So, how do you modify child support legally?
Through a skilled family lawyer, you may petition a Florida court to modify a child support order. If the court finds material changes in circumstances that justify the change, the child support will then be changed. What kind of circumstances?
Situations That Might Warrant Filing a Petition for Child Support Modification in Florida
The amount payable for child support may be decreased or increased when the parent’s earning ability or the child’s financial needs change enough to trigger a modification.
For instance, a modification request for decreased child support may be made if:
- There’s a decrease in the payor’s salary
- The payor loses his/her job or source of income
- The recipient begins to earn more money
- The child gets emancipated
- There’s a significant decrease in the child’s expenses
A modification request for increased child support may be granted if:
- The recipient loses his/her job or source of income
- The payor begins to earn more money
- There’s a significant increase in the child’s expenses
A major change in parenting time may also trigger a request for child support modification.
How does that work?
Imagine this scenario. A child support order is based upon one parent spending 210 nights with the child while the other spends 155 nights with the child. However, the historical pattern presented in court shows that one parent spends 310 nights with the child, while the other parent only gets 55 nights.
Note that the changes in parenting time will prompt child support modification only if the “minority parent” is awarded at least 20% of the nights with the child.
Florida family law courts require that the material change(s) prompting the modification request constitutes at least a 15% or $50 difference from the amount in the previous child support order. However, it should be noted that the court will not hesitate to adjust a child support order if they believe it’s in the best interests of the child.
Permanent Vs. Temporary Child Support Adjustment
Depending on the situation, child support modifications can either be temporary or permanent. Medical emergencies are some of the most common factors that lead to temporary child support modifications.
Child support payments may, for instance, be reduced if the paying parent has a medical emergency. Conversely, child support payments may be increased if the child experiences a medical emergency.
Florida family courts consider permanent child support modifications when long-term changes occur, thereby affecting the original child support equation. Examples include when one parent remarries, becomes permanently disabled, changes his/her career, or when the needs of the child change.
It should also go without saying that it is expected that your motivation for seeking child support adjustment be genuine and that you are not merely trying to get back at the other parent. However, regardless of your motivation, for the best chance at successful modification you need to work with a knowledgeable Florida family law attorney who can present your case in the way that’s most favorable to you.