When a Child Support Modification is Appropriate in Florida (and When It’s Not)
If one parent was ordered to pay child support, it is likely because the other parent needs those funds to ensure that their shared child has a financially secure life. However, circumstances do change over time, and the non-custodial parent may no longer afford those payments or the custodial parent may need more money to maintain the child’s standard of living.
Either way, a custodial or non-custodial parent can seek a child support modification. However, when is it appropriate to modify the current support order in Florida?
When It’s Appropriate to Modify Child Support
Changes in circumstances that might warrant a child support modification in Florida include:
- A substantial change in income or financial ability of either parent (e.g., the obligor parent’s involuntary loss of job or income, or the child’s hospitalization or increased medical expenses, etc.);
- The cost of health insurance incurred when insurance coverage becomes available;
- A child becomes emancipated, or there is a significant decrease in childcare expenses; and
- An increase in either parent’s income (e.g., getting a promotion, starting a new business, seeking new employment, etc.).
Under Florida’s family law, a “substantial” change in circumstances warrants a child support modification only if there is a 15% difference from the amount ordered in the previous order.
Changes in Expenses That Warrant a Child Support Modification
Also, courts in Florida may approve either parent’s petition to modify child support if there have been certain changes in child-related costs, including:
- Any significant changes in childcare expenses can justify a child support modification as long as they are related to employment needs (expenses for childcare do not apply to stay-at-home parents).
- In Florida, spousal support and child support are interrelated. Thus, when the spousal support order has been terminated or expired, the additional or lost income is taken into account.
- Additional child support orders
- Health insurance for children and the parent
When It’s Inappropriate to Modify Child Support
Obtaining a hearing for a modification is no guarantee that the court will agree to modify the existing child support order. During the hearing, the court will consider every aspect of the requested modification and the specific circumstances surrounding your case.
In Florida, the following “circumstances” do not justify a child support modification:
- The argument that the child is growing up
- A voluntary increase in the cost of living
- A voluntary decrease in the obligor parent’s income
- The obligor’s voluntary bankruptcy filing
- The obligor’s support payments for another child (unless they are court-ordered)
If the obligor parent is trying to decrease the support amount through a modification in any of these circumstances, get help from an Orlando child support attorney to challenge his or her modification request.
Seek the legal assistance from our knowledgeable lawyers at the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee if you are (a) the custodial parent who needs to increase child support payments or fight against the obligor’s attempts to decrease the amount, or (b) the obligor parent looking to modify the existing order. Call at 407-521-7171 to discuss your unique situation.