Requirements for Modifying Child Support in Florida
When a court enters a child support order, the process for modifying that order can get complicated. You have the burden of showing a “substantial change in circumstances” to justify a modification. The general requirement, according to Florida law, is that a modification may be pursued is your changed circumstances would affect support by at least 15 percent, or $50, whichever is greater.
Below are some of the most common reasons a modification of support is sought:
Change in Income Level
This change can be either a big increase, or big decrease, in monthly income. There is no absolute amount the income must change before you can file a modification petition. Nevertheless, the revised income must result in the child support amount changing by the aforementioned 15 percent or $50, whichever is greater.
Quite often, the reason someone seeks to modify child support is when they suddenly lose their job. The job loss is typically involuntary and the petitioner has no income so they need to modify the support order to avoid filing bankruptcy. However, the petitioner also has the burden of showing that they have been looking for new employment and been unsuccessful.
Another scenario that comes up from time to time is voluntary unemployment. This is when someone voluntarily leaves their job and seeks to have their child support order modified. This is usually a much more contentious proceeding and the petitioner has the burden of establishing that child support should be modified after a voluntary loss of steady income.
Change in the Amount of Expenses
Certain changes in child-related monthly, or yearly, expenses can support a modification in child support such as:
– Health insurance for your child; and
– Educational expenses.
Procedure to Get Child Support Modified
If you are pursuing the modification, you must file a Supplemental Petition to Modify Child Support. You must then serve the petition on your ex-spouse. You must also disclose financial information to your ex-spouse supporting the proposed modification. You may then have to go through a hearing or mediation with a magistrate or a hearing officer.
If the Florida Department of Revenue has ever been involved with your case, you are required to meet with a child support hearing officer and the Department of Revenue, along with their counsel, will need to be involved with the petition.
Modifying Past Due Child Support
If you owe unpaid child support, you generally cannot get the amount owed (arrears) modified. This is because a modification, if granted, is only effective as of the filing date of the Supplemental Petition. This means if you file for a modification in June, but haven’t paid child support since January, that unpaid child support for the preceding six months will not be modified and you will still owe that money to your ex-spouse.
Contact an Experienced Florida Child Support Modification Attorney Today
As you can see, the process of modifying a child support order can be quite complicated and requires knowledge of court procedure. This is why you should retain an experienced Fort Lauderdale child support modification attorney to help guide you through the process. At Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC, we understand the legal hurdles that must be met and are ready to help. Our Fort Lauderdale office is close to Broward Hospital, north of Davie Boulevard, and just three blocks from the county courthouse. Our office is open from 8:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and we offer Saturday appointments by request for your convenience. Call us today at 954-800-2362 or contact us online.