Have You Had a Substantial Change of Circumstances?
Whether you are asking for an increase in child support to be paid to you or asking for a reduction in the child support amount you are currently paying, the only basis for such changes under Florida law centers around a substantial change of circumstances since the entry of the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. This change in circumstances must be involuntary, meaning a person who quits his or her job simply to avoid paying child support will not qualify for a modification of child support. The change in circumstances must be substantial and must be unforeseen. Losing a job through no fault of your own, getting a better job, taking on greater responsibility with a child or even a change in your employment benefits could all qualify as a material change in circumstances.
No matter which “side of the fence” you are on, the attorneys at The Law Place understand that changes in life happen, and that when such changes occur, it can become necessary to request a modification of child support. Our experienced family attorneys have been helping parents just like you for many years, and can carefully assess your individual circumstances in order to determine whether you are eligible for a modification of child support. In general, your significant change in circumstances must change the total amount of child support by a minimum of 15% or $50.
How Is Florida Child Support Calculated?
In the state of Florida, strict statutory guidelines are followed in order to calculate child support. A model known as “income shares” is followed during the determination of child support. In essence, the state wants to ensure that the children continue to receive the same proportional share of each parent’s income which would have been received if the parents had remained married. The income of both parents is added together in order to determine the appropriate level of child support related to the state’s guidelines associated with that income level.
The award of child support is split in a proportional manner based on the stated income of each parent; health insurance, medical expenses and the costs for daycare or other child care are also tabulated and divided in a proportional manner. This “model” is followed when one parent has primary physical custody, and the other parent’s visitation schedule consists of less than 20% of overnight visits. The courts can deviate from this method of calculation only by 5%, should extraordinary expenses for the child be a factor (and for a variety of other reasons), but in general this calculation will apply when determining child support amounts.
Asking For a Decrease in Florida Child Support
If you are the parent who is asking for a decrease in the amount of child support you are required to pay, the following is a list of factors which the court may consider:
• If you have recently lost your job and have no reasonable expectation of obtaining comparable employment any time in the near future
• If you have otherwise lost a source of income which was material in determining the amount of child support you are required to pay
• If the parent you are paying child support to has experienced a significant change in circumstances which has resulted in considerably more money being made on their part
• If the children for whom you are paying child support for have had a significant decrease in expenses such as ending daycare or transferring from a private school to a public school, etc.
• If time you spend with your children has significantly increased since the original child support calculation
There may be other circumstances which could qualify for a reduction in the amount of monthly child support you pay; an attorney from The Law Place can determine whether your situation will apply when asking for a modification of child support.
Asking for an Increase in Florida Child Support
As the parent who receives child support, there are several situations which could qualify you to receive a modification of child support such as:
• You have recently lost your job and have no reasonable expectation that you will receive a comparable job in the near future
• You have otherwise lost a material source of income on which your original child support payments were based
• The parent paying child support has had a significant increase in income, whether from a better employment opportunity or other source of income
• Your children’s expenses have increased significantly since the child support was originally calculated and awarded
• The original amount of time which the other parent was scheduled to have the children (overnight visits) has decreased significantly
How to Change Your Florida Child Support
If your attorney determines you have reasonable justification to ask for a modification of child support, then a Petition to Modify Child Support will be filed which outlines the basic facts of the case, detailing why the court should recognize your change in circumstances. The Petition will be served on the other parent via sheriff or private process server. Once the Petition has been served, a hearing will be scheduled; you may be asked to produce income records, proof of loss of income, or to propose a new parenting plan. During the hearing, the court will examine the Petition and supporting documentation, and if they find there has been a material change in circumstances, the amount of child support will be modified.
Getting the Help You Need From The Law Place
The process of determining Florida child support can be complex, however if you are entitled to either reduce the amount of child support you pay or to an increase in the amount of child support you receive, The Law Place attorneys can help. We will negotiate on your behalf to ensure all aspects of your child support follows the state guidelines.