Modifying Child Support Payments in Florida

Child support is awarded in most divorce cases, even when two parents split their time equally with their children. Child support is established during divorce proceedings. After the divorce decree is finalized, parents are expected to adhere to the guidelines stated in the order indefinitely. After a few years have passed, however, your circumstances may change, and you may wish to update child support payments. Below, we discuss how and when to request child support modification in Florida.

Requirements to Modify Child Support

Either parent can request a child support modification. The child support order must be valid for the next six months to be eligible for modification. The requesting parent must prove there has been a significant change that justifies updating the payment. These changes should be substantial, permanent, and involuntary. According to Florida Statute 61.30, a “substantial” change is a change of at least 15% but no less than $50 if the payment has been modified in the last three years. If it’s been over three years, the requested payment should be at least 10% but no less than $25. A permanent change in circumstances is one that’s lasted longer than six months and has no end date. Involuntary changes are outside of the requesting parent’s control.

Reasons To Modify Child Support

Here are some valid reasons a child support order may be changed:

Income

Substantial and permanent changes in income are the most common reason parents request modifications to child support payments. Income changes of any type, such as a promotion or long-term job loss, are eligible for modification.

Time-Sharing Changes

Income and time-sharing amounts are the two most common reasons for child support modification. Child support payments are determined based on the number of overnights a child spends with a parent and the typical time-sharing pattern (if it differs from what’s stated in the parenting plan). However, a child support payment can’t be modified if one parent is already assigned to have custody of their children for less than 20% of overnights (73 overnights every year).

Change in Monthly Expenses

Child support provides funds for a child’s necessary daily care. If there are significant changes to the children’s monthly expenses, it may be a valid reason to modify your child support payment. This could include:

  • Daycare expenses
  • School tuition
  • Healthcare insurance costs
  • Alimony payment status change
  • Other child support orders with children from previous relationships

How to Request Child Support Modification

Requesting child support modification is similar to filing an initial child support request:

  1. File a Supplemental Petition to Modify Child Support with the family court that approved the original child support order.
  2. Serve the other parent with the modification request.
  3. Wait 20 days for the other parent to respond.
  4. If the parent doesn’t respond within 20 days, you can file a Motion for Default. If the spouse responds with a counter-petition, a hearing will be scheduled.
  5. Mediation may be required before the final hearing to encourage both parents to reach an agreement before going to court.
  6. If mediation fails, the case will go to court, and a judge will review the details and evidence you provide.
  7. The judge will then either grant or deny the modification.

Navigating Child Support Modifications In Central Florida

Child support modification requests are complicated legal matters that escalate quickly. Contact an experienced family law attorney, like Alison M. Lopes, to help you navigate the process and ensure a favorable outcome for you and your family. Call our office at 407-442-2724 to schedule a low-cost consultation to discuss your case.