Florida law recognizes that a change in the circumstances of either parent may provide justifiable grounds to increase or decrease the amount paid for child support. However, proving that a change is substantial enough to warrant the revision of child support payments may pose a challenge.
You likely will need a child support lawyer to help navigate your situation. The experienced and compassionate attorneys at the O’Mara Law Group have helped many clients successfully seek child support modifications in Florida, and we can do the same for you. Schedule a consultation today so we can discuss your particular case, explain your options, and take some of the stress out of this challenging situation.
What changes can lead to child support modification?
There are several conditions under which Florida courts can revise child support.
The court considers both parents’ total income when determining how much child support to award. So, a significant change in either income is a valid reason to request child support modification.
For example, if one parent gets a new job that pays them more, that may be a reason to vary the child support amount.
In the same way, if the parent paying alimony loses their job or their income drops sharply, they may be unable to pay the child support in full. Adjusting the amount paid as child support may be valid in such a situation.
However, for Florida courts to modify child support, the change in income must be substantial, permanent, and involuntary:
- “Substantial” means that if the child support was awarded or modified less than three years ago, the change in the revised child support must be at least 15 percent but not less than $50. If it’s been over three years, the change must be at least 10 percent but not less than $25.
- Determining if the change is permanent depends on each case. But the change must have lasted at least six months in most cases. For example, a paying parent’s loss of their job is not enough if they can find another job for similar pay. However, retirement at the normal retirement age would qualify as a permanent change.
- The change must also be involuntary. It means the paying parent wasn’t responsible for their job loss or income reduction. For example, if the parent quit their job or switched to a lower-paying one, they can’t request child support modification.
Changes in Timesharing
The timesharing percentage of overnights each parent gets with the child directly influences the amount of child support. So, a change in timesharing is a strong basis for requesting a child support modification in Florida.
Florida courts will consider the child’s actual time spent with each parent, not what the parenting plan specifies. So, if your child spends more overnights with you than the parenting plan calls for, you can request an increase in child support.
Additionally, you may be able to seek retroactive child support. You can count all the extra overnights, including those from before you filed the petition for increased child support.
Parental time is often complex, so you should consider getting assistance from a family lawyer to help you understand your rights. You can schedule a consultation with an experienced family lawyer at the O’Mara Law Group if your case involves changes in timesharing.
Changes in Health or Health Insurance
Florida law allows health insurance to be deducted from gross income before calculating child support. So, a drastic change in the health insurance payment of a parent can qualify as a change in circumstances.
Similarly, child support normally involves payment of health insurance for the child. A change in the child’s health insurance premium can also be a reason to alter child support.
In addition, a change in the child’s health or that of the paying parent significantly affecting the parent’s financial circumstances can justify altering child support.
Change in Child Care Costs
Changes that affect the amount of money needed to cover child care expenses can be a qualifying reason. For example, the child may no longer need daycare.
Other Financial Expenses
Any change affecting a parent’s disposable income can be grounds for requesting child support modification in Florida. For instance, when a paying parent’s alimony obligation ends, they’ll have more funds available to pay child support. Generally, the less alimony a party pays, the more child support they must pay, and vice versa.
How To File a Motion To Modify Child Support
Modifying child support in Florida starts with filing a motion in court. Here are the other steps you need to take:
- Download Form 12.905(b), Supplemental Petition for Modification of Child Support.
- Complete the form and sign it before a notary or deputy clerk.
- File the form in the county where the original order was entered. If the order was entered or the child lives in another state, a child support attorney can help you determine the appropriate place to file the form.
- Complete and submit a financial affidavit, which provides your financial information.
However, if the Florida Department of Revenue has already become involved in your case, the process will be different and often more complex. Also, whether the other party is contesting your motion will determine how your case will proceed in court.
How To Win a Child Support Modification Case
Winning your child support modification case depends on convincing the courts that there’s a substantial, permanent, and involuntary change in circumstances.
The following actors affect how courts calculate child support in Florida:
- Number of children
- Gross income
- Permitted deductions, such as taxes and health insurance
Our knowledgeable child support lawyers at the O’Mara Law Group can help you prepare your case and gather the evidence for the courts to rule in your favor.
Trust in O’Mara Law Group for Your Child Support Case
You can request child support modification in Florida if there’s a valid reason under Florida child support law. Because these cases can be complex, you should work with a child support attorney to navigate the process.
Our experienced child support attorneys, Mark M. O’Mara and Cathleen Winter, are compassionate, skilled, and highly rated by past clients and their peers. You can trust us to fight for your future and work with you to modify your child support. Schedule a consultation to discuss your case and discover how we can help you navigate the justice system.