No matter the circumstances, going through a divorce is a complex and emotional process. But when children are involved, they are even more so. You will likely have a lot of questions surrounding parental responsibility and financial obligations in the years to come, and one of the many reasons you should find a divorce lawyer as soon as possible is to ensure that your rights and the best interests of your children will be protected from the outset. But once you and your spouse have designed a parenting plan and the courts have determined how much each parent will pay in child support, is it possible to make changes to your child support agreements in Florida? We’ll discuss this in more detail in today’s post.
Is it possible to modify child support payments in Florida?
Simply put, child support is always modifiable under Florida law as long as the change falls within certain parameters. No child support determination can be categorized as non-modifiable. Modifications can apply to child support orders determined for a previous divorce, paternity cases, or virtually any other order created by the Florida Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Office.
To be eligible for child support modification, the requested change would have to equal at least $50 or 15% of the child support payments (whichever is greater). If the adjustment would meet these requirements, the parent in question would need to file a petition to modify the child support payments, often with help from their low cost divorce attorney. Keep in mind that modifying child support can take some time, so this is not a change that will happen immediately.
What kinds of circumstantial changes would warrant a modification?
Generally, there are three kinds of changes that would warrant a child support modification, and all are at least related to finances. We’ll explain these adjustments and give some examples below.
Changes to income: When one parent needs to find a divorce lawyer to modify their child support, it’s pretty likely that the reason behind it is a change in income. These changes could be due to a new job, an employment layoff, a substantial inheritance, a remarriage, or other factors that could impact how much money one parent receives. Whether it’s an increase or a decrease in income, a substantial enough change could warrant an adjustment in child support payments.
Changes to parental responsibility: In Florida, you’ll be required to create a parenting plan to determine how parental responsibility is divvied up. You may be eligible to change the amount of child support you pay if the amount of overnights you spend with your child has followed a pattern that’s different than what was decided in the original plan. However, there are exceptions to this rule. You’ll be able to petition for a modification only if you are the ‘minority’ parent (i.e., you had fewer overnights with your child) yet have at least 20% of these overnight visits in reality or in the agreement. If you have less than 20% of these overnights with your child, you will not be eligible for a change in support. For example, when fathers and children live separately, 22% of fathers see their children more than once a week. If your parenting plan outlines that the amount you see your child is equal to less than 20% of overnight visits, you probably won’t be able to seek a modification. This one can get a little complicated, which is why parents dealing with this sort of change should seek out professional divorce help during support modification.
Changes to expenses: Another life change that could warrant a child support modification would be the addition or removal of significant expenses for either the child or the parent in question. Examples of these kinds of expenses would be daycare, taxes, health insurance, medical procedures (surgeries, dental work, etc.), disabilities, special needs, treatment for health issues, and more. There are very specific guidelines for these kinds of changes, so it will benefit you to find a divorce lawyer who is familiar with these modifications.
Whether you’re just starting divorce proceedings or you are seeking a change to a child support agreements, it’s important that you find a divorce lawyer to help you through this time. For more information, contact us today.