Florida Requirements for Modification of Child Support
The value of a parent’s child support obligation is one of the most highly contested issues in any child custody proceeding. Parents who were willing to give their children everything while married suddenly nitpick over every nickel and dime they are required to pay once the marriage has ended. And parents who took a reasonable approach to child-related expenses suddenly feel that their child deserves everything and seek exorbitant amounts of support. These disagreements don’t always end when the judge signs his final order and some parents, still upset over the payment obligation, return to court seeking a modification of the child support award.
Substantial Change of Circumstances
Florida law allows modification of a child support at any time, provided there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the issuance of the court’s prior order. This means that you simply cannot walk into court and say that you need more money. Instead, you must be able to prove that something has changed since the initial support order was entered that justifies the modification. The child support guidelines provide that the change in circumstances must result in a 15% or $50 change, whichever is greater, to the current child support obligation in order for the court to modify it.
What constitutes a substantial change in circumstance depends on whether the parent seeking modification is the obligor (the parent paying child support) or the parent receiving child support).
Decreased child support award
If the obligor seeks modification, a substantial change in circumstances that would support decreasing the monthly child support may include:
- Loss of employment;
- Decreased income;
- Birth of another child;
- Increased medical expenses due to illness of self or immediate family member, or;
- Increased income of the parent receiving child support.
An important note about loss of employment and decreased income – the loss must be involuntary. If the obligor lost his job due to layoffs, or because an injury made him unable to continue working at his present job, the subsequent decrease in income would be involuntary and may justify decreasing his monthly child support obligation.
If, however, he voluntarily quit his job and did not get another, or if he quit his job for a vastly underpaid one, the subsequent loss of income would be considered voluntary, and not sufficient to decrease his support obligation. If the loss of income or employment was for the sole purpose of avoiding paying child support, it will not constitute a substantial change in circumstances.
Increased child support award
If the parent receiving child support seeks modification, a substantial change in circumstances may include:
- Loss of employment or decreased income (subject to the same involuntary standard that applies to the obligor);
- Increased income of the obligor, or;
- Change in child’s needs, i.e., increased educational or medical needs.
Change in parenting plan
A substantial change in the amount of time each parent spends with the child may also be grounds for modifying a child support award. The court is allowed to look at how much time the children actually spend with the parents, as opposed to how much time the parenting plan calls for them to spend with each parent. So if the parenting plan calls for a 50-50 split, but the children spend 75% of the time with their father, he may seek to modify child support based on his increased time with the children.
Boca Raton Child Support Modification Attorneys
When life changes, the Boca Raton child support modification attorneys at Schwartz l White can help your child support award change with it. Our attorneys have more than 50 years’ combined experience helping Boca Raton residents successfully petition the court for modifications to their monthly child support payment. We have the experience and dedication you need to modify your award to meet changed circumstances. Contact us today at 561.391.9943 and schedule a free initial consultation.