September 15, 2022
Any divorce presents many challenges and difficulties. This is true even when the separating partners are as amicable as possible.
However, the process becomes more complex when the divorcing parties have children. One of the primary concerns for separating parents is the modification of child support orders.
Fortunately, the courts know that life changes happen. When the structures or circumstances of a family change, parents can petition for a modification in child support arrangements.
If you are wondering how to request a child support modification, make sure to consult with a skilled family law attorney. A knowledgeable child support lawyer will review the circumstances of your case and help you seek a modification.
Who Can Petition for Child Support Modification?
In most cases, either parent can request a change in the child support order from their divorce. This is true whether the previous order is from a divorce, a paternity claim, or the Florida Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Office.
The person ordered to provide child support and the party receiving payments may request a change. For example, the payer may request that the courts decrease the child support they owe.
On the other hand, the recipient can petition the court for an increase in child support payments. Other family members or parties are not able to petition for this type of change, even with the assistance of a family law lawyer.
If you are unsure about whether you are eligible to request a child support payment modification, speak with a family law attorney. A legal representative will help you collect the necessary evidence and documentation to request a modified child support order.
What Is Required for a Modified Child Support Order?
The courts will not adjust a child support order simply because one parent requests the change. Instead, the petitioning party must provide evidence that a substantial, permanent, and involuntary change in circumstances has occurred.
This may include a change in personal or financial circumstances. The change must have happened after the initial child support order was issued or following the final judgment in the relevant divorce.
Many different life changes may result in the courts adjusting child support requirements for divorced parents.
Some of the most common reasons for changes in child support orders are:
- Substantial changes in parenting and investment time for one party
- Changes in healthcare costs for the children or parents
- The payer, recipient, or children developing a disability
- A significant decrease in income for either parent
- A significant increase in income for either parent
- Substantial changes in childcare costs
- Substantial changes in medical care expenses or special needs costs
It is important to note that these are only some examples of the circumstances that may result in a modified child support order. When you speak with a family law attorney, they will review the child support guidelines with you.
The parent who seeks the modification has the burden of proving this type of change in life circumstances. Establishing that the change is permanent typically requires providing evidence that the change has lasted at least six months.
For instance, suppose one parent loses their job. If they expect to find new employment, this will not qualify as a permanent change.
Also, the change in circumstances cannot result from the parent’s voluntary actions. For instance, a severe illness or extended period of unemployment would be considered involuntary.
However, the following shifts in circumstance are considered voluntary in most cases:
- Job termination because of the party’s actions
- Quitting an employment position
- Accepting a pay decrease
- Engaging in a criminal action resulting in a conviction
According to Florida state law, changes in the parents’ circumstances must amount to at least 15 percent or $50. Whichever amount is greater will determine whether a modification is necessary.
When you wonder if your change in circumstance will qualify for an order modification, reach out to an accomplished family law attorney.
Filing for Child Support Modification with a Family Law Lawyer
The process for seeking a change in child support arrangements is complex. Because of that, it is critical to secure the services of a knowledgeable family law lawyer.
The person petitioning for a change must fill out a Supplemental Petition for Modification of Child Support form. A skilled legal representative will make your petition as strong as possible.
If you believe you have a valid claim for child support order modification, do not hesitate. In many cases, these court orders are retroactive.
In other words, when a significant life change occurs, you should petition for a modification as soon as possible. Suppose you retired six months ago, leading to a substantial change in your financial status. Then imagine that you failed to file a petition until a week ago. The court may only alter the child support order dating back to when you filed for the petition. This would result in a significant financial loss.
Speaking with a child support attorney will help you pursue a court order that works in your favor. The goal of family courts is to ensure the best interests of the child. Consult with a legal professional to seek a child support modification in your case.
Consult With a Family Law Attorney
It is essential to secure legal help when seeking a child support modification. A seasoned family lawyer will review the facts of your case to help you determine the best path forward.
When you have experienced a shift in life circumstances, you may pursue a modification in your child support payment order.
If you are dealing with issues related to custody, contact an experienced child custody lawyer for help.