Modifying Child Support Orders
As parents, we want what is best for our children. We want to provide them with the emotional support they need to grow and thrive, as well as the financial support to ensure their needs are provided for. For unmarried parents or couples who have gone through a divorce, when and how much financial support children require tends to be a heated issue. While the financial needs of the children are a primary consideration, the financial means of the parent who is obligated to pay support must also be considered. In determining an order for child support, the court takes into consideration the incomes of both parents as well as their expenses, while balancing that with the needs of the child. As job situations, income levels, living expenses and the children’s needs are often subject to change over time, one parent or another may need to request a modification of a child support order. Knowing the circumstances under which these orders can be modified can ensure children are provided what they need, while the livelihood and the rights of the parents are protected.
Changes in Circumstances
Under the Florida State Statutes, Section 61.14 allows for a modification of an existing court order for child support based on changes in circumstances or financial ability. Orders for support can be increased or decreased providing there is a substantial change in circumstances, including situations such as the following:
- Changes in income: This is one of the most common reasons to seek modification for an order of support. Any significant increase or decrease of earnings on the part of either parent may be enough to justify a change in the amount of support either party pays or receives.
- Change in expenses: Significant Increases or decreases in expenses often justify modification for support. Common types of expenses that will be considered in a modification include day care arrangements, orders of support for additional children, changes in payroll taxes, and the expense associated with providing health insurance for either the child or the parent.
- Changes in circumstances: There are specific changes in circumstances that may entitle either party for a modification of child support. Changes in parenting plans and custody arrangements may require a modification based on more equitable division of expenses. As child support orders do not automatically become invalid when a child reaches 18, a modification may be necessary, particularly in cases where more than one child is involved.
Obtaining A Modification of Support
You can request to have the amount of child support you pay or receive changed by filing a petition for modification in the court where your support order originates. Both parents will need to file financial affidavits detailing their current income and expenses, and will be required to file a child support worksheet, which assists the court in determining the total amount of support the child in question requires, and the percentage that each parent should be obligated to pay. You will need to show the previous order of support, and proof regarding the substantial change in circumstances for which a modification is being requested. You will be required to serve these documents on the other parent, and a hearing will be scheduled in the matter. A final judgment form is also required, which the Judge will complete at the hearing. While you are not required to have an lawyer to request a modification, an experienced family law lawyer can assist you in filling out and filing these forms correctly with the court, as well as ensure you are paying or receiving the amount of support that best suits the interests of both you and your child.
Reach Out to a Florida Lawyer Today for Assistance
If you have concerns about child support, contact our experienced Florida family law lawyers today. At the Law Firm of William E. Raikes III, our lawyers and staff will provide you the compassionate, comprehensive legal service you deserve, while protecting your rights and looking out for the best interests of you and your children. We serve all the entire Fort Pierce, Port Saint Lucie, Vero Beach, Saint Lucie, and Indian River Counties. Call us today at (772) 595-6654 for a free consultation.