Child Support Modifications: Can They Happen and When?
If you are a parent of a minor child and are going through, or have already gone through, divorce proceedings, then you are likely familiar with child support payments. Florida family courts base child support payments on various factors, including the income of both parents and the child’s necessary expenses, such as costs for health insurance or school. However, the future is unpredictable, and sometimes unexpected circumstances lead to drastic personal financial changes. The family law courts in Florida understand this and may allow parents to modify their child support payment obligations due to unexpected and substantial changes in circumstances.
Reasons for Child Support Modifications
Child support payments cannot be changed without first getting approval by a court order. To receive a child support modification—whether it be to increase or decrease payments—the parent who is seeking the change must show there has been a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstance. The change in circumstance must not have been anticipated at the time that the original order was put in place. Furthermore, the parent will also need to demonstrate why the change would be in the best interest of the child. This is a difficult burden to carry, and before disputing a child support order or requesting a change, you should consult with an experienced family attorney who will be able to help you structure the reasons for change and ensure they qualify before filing an action in court.
Possible reasons for seeking child support modifications include:
1. Permanent disability of a parent or child. If you, or your child, become disabled, you may be able to modify your child support order. A parent who becomes permanently disabled will likely be unable to work as many hours and this may lead to a significant change in income. Further, whether it is the parent or child that becomes disabled, you will likely be paying more money in medical-related costs.
2. Economic hardship of a parent. If you are experiencing economic hardship due to unemployment or a demotion, you may be able to lower or temporarily pause your child support obligations. If the economic hardship you are suffering is a result of unemployment, your job loss must have been in good faith. In other words, you cannot purposefully quit your job, or choose to switch to a lower-paying job for no reason other than to request a lower child support obligation.
3. Either parent obtains a higher paying job. If a parent receives a promotion, finds a new job, or seeks a new business venture that results in higher income increases, the parent receiving child support may ask for an increase in the support amount.
Keep in mind that not every change in circumstance will warrant a modification of a child support order. The change must be substantial and must not have been voluntary. Further, if you are the parent seeking the change you must show that the change was unexpected and could not have been predicted at the time that the court entered the original child support order.
Finally, you must show that the modification is going to be for the benefit of the child. The modification must be to support expenses related to your child such as:
● Childcare Transportation;
● Extracurricular activities;
● Basic necessities;
● Educational costs.
Child support payments are an obligation and cannot be altered or stopped without first receiving approval from a court. If you have recently undergone a change in circumstances that has affected your ability to make or keep up with your child support payments, contact a Florida Family law attorney. The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm has a team of experienced Family attorneys located in Coral Gables, Florida. As attorneys who focus on Family law, we understand how important it is to you as a parent to provide for your child. Our attorneys have helped clients in all types of circumstances with child custody modification matters. We serve the entire state of Florida, so call us today for more information.