Maybe you lose your job and can’t afford to pay child support at the same level any more. Or you’re receiving child support and you remarry, raising your income level.
When unforeseen circumstances arise, it may become necessary to make changes to the child support plan created by the court. Obtaining a child support modification in Florida can be difficult, however, and usually certain criteria must be met in order to for this sort of change to be possible.
Frequent conflict and changes to child support are likely to be detrimental to the child, so the statutes governing child support guidelines require a strong impetus to make modifications to pre-existing plans. For any terms to be modified, a judge must approve an agreement or change the original order.
To modify child support, the circumstances leading to the modification request must be involuntary in nature. For example, if an individual is laid off from their job, this would be an involuntary situation. Willingly leaving that job, however, would probably not qualify for a change in child support.
Making a Case for Child Support Modification
To make any legal changes to a child support plan, parents must request modifications from the court that issued the original order. Even if both parents agree to a modification, they must follow the Florida legal procedure to change the child support order currently in place.
Because divorce often results in conflict—even long after the divorce proceedings are over—quite often parents will disagree over changes to existing child support payments. Under these circumstances, both parents must appear in court to make their case for keeping payments the way they are or modifying them.
Temporary vs. Permanent Child Support Modification
Modification to child support payments can be temporary or permanent, depending on the situation. In the event of a medical emergency for one parent, for example, payments may be temporarily decreased. Alternatively, if the child undergoes a medical emergency, payments may be increased. A temporary modification may also be sought in the event of a custody change—for example, if one parent is staying in a hospital and the other is taking care of the child.
Permanent modifications can be considered by family courts in the event of long-term changes. For example, if the paying parent remarries, a modification can be made for a permanent increase, due to his or her additional income from the new spouse. Cases can be also made if the needs of a child change, or in the event of one parent becoming permanently disabled. A parent changing his or her career could also result in a permanent modification.
Modifying Child Support to Decrease
As mentioned before, the involuntary loss of income or a job on the part of the paying party could serve as a basis to decrease monthly child support payments. If the income of the parent who receives the payment increases substantially, this could also justify decreasing the other parent’s financial contribution. If the child’s needs change in a significant way—for example, if the child no longer needs to attend a daycare regularly—a case could be made to decrease support payments.
Modifying Child Support to Increase
The parent who receives the child support payment may lose his or her job, or the paying party may substantial increase their income. In these situations, a parent may request for child support payments to increase. The receiving parent may also request more child support if the child’s expenses grow, such as in the event of hospitalization.
Capable and experienced family legal counsel is key in making a successful case for child support modification. Contact us today for knowledgeable and affordable representation in Florida family courts.