Child support is one of the most significant issues co-parents face. As your children grow and family dynamics change, you may find that your current child support plan needs to be updated after the initial judgment is finalized. Any child support order can be modified by either parent, whether you are paying child support or receiving payments. Here is what you need to know about modifying child support in Florida.

Reasons to Modify a Child Support Order 

A parent must experience a substantial change in their circumstances to modify a child support order. As a general rule, if the result is a change in the support calculation of $50 per month or 15%, whichever is greater, the court will find a substantial change.  Here are some common reasons that may support a change in a parent’s child support payments: 

Educational Expenses 

There are various expenses involving a child’s education that may change over time. Day care costs are part of any child support calculation and any change, up or down, may be sufficient to justify a modification.  Depending upon the previous court order, changes in tuition fees, school supplies, and school uniforms may justify a change in support.

Changes in Time-Sharing Patterns 

Child support considers how many overnights a child stays with a parent according to the established parenting plan. If the number of actual overnights differs from the parenting plan, either parent can request to modify the child support payment. However, the order cannot be modified if a parent is assigned to have custody for 20% of overnights, but the actual number falls below that amount. 

Other Child Support Payments 

Child support should not exceed a certain percentage of your overall income. If you are required to pay child support to more than one partner for children from previous relationships, you may request to modify your payments, so they do not exceed a certain percentage of your total income. 

Income 

An income change is the most common reason for child support modification. Either parent can request a child support modification based on their income, whether you are the parent making payments or receiving them. For instance, one parent may request child support modification if the other parent gets a new job resulting in a substantial increase in income. Or the parent making child support payments could request a change due to job loss or income decrease. However, the court does not have the authority to retroactively reduce child support accruing before the payor files his supplemental petition to modify his support obligation.

Healthcare 

Child support can be modified if a child has been diagnosed with an illness or has special needs. Child support can also be adjusted if a parent becomes disabled.  If health insurance was not available at the time of the original award but has become available, this may justify a change in child support.

Eligibility to Modify 

Any child support order is eligible for modification, whether from a divorce, paternity case, or other support order. As pointed out above, when requesting a modification, the new payment must change by $50 or 15%, whichever is greater. 

Steps How to File a Child Support modification 

You can request either a temporary or permanent child support modification. The process of modifying a child support order closely resembles the steps of creating an initial child support order, as described below: 

1. Filing a Supplemental Petition to Modify Child Support in the county court of the original order.

2. Serving the other parent with the modification request.

3. Waiting 20 days for the other parent to respond to the request. 

4. Income verification by both parents.

5. Mediation to reach an agreement.  

6. Judgement.

7. Approval or denial of the modification request. 

Peppler Law — Seminole County Family Law Attorney 

Thomas R. Peppler is an experienced family law attorney that can help you through the process of creating a child custody and child support arrangement that works for you and your family. When you need to modify an existing child support order, Peppler Law P.A. is also here to help. Call our office at 407-316-2045 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. 

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