How to Go About a Child Support Modification
You love your children, and you want to do your best to support them financially, even when you are no longer with the other parent. However, due to many circumstances, such as health or financial difficulty, it often means that it is not feasible to continue with your current arrangement with the courts. It might be helpful to seek modification of the court order. Most of those who seek child support modifications aren’t “deadbeats” who do not want to pay. Rather, they are people who have fallen on hard times for some reason, such as the loss of a job. In those cases, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney about how you can go about getting a modification.
Alternatively, the parent who is receiving child support could actually seek a modification that increases the amount of child support. Again, that parent may have suffered a job loss or an injury that is making it more difficult for them to support their child, or the parent paying support may be making substantially more money now compared to when the court order was entered. They may see a modification to have the parent who pays support pay more each month. The general rule is that the party seeking to modify the current court order has to show a substantial change in circumstances.
You Need to Act Quickly
If something happens that causes you not to be able to pay the amount of child support ordered, it is very important that you act as quickly as possible. Child support will continue to accrue and you will still be responsible for the amount in the current court order until the court orders otherwise. Contact an attorney and take steps to get a modification as soon as your life circumstances change. Sometimes simply talking with the other parent can help you reach an agreement to modify the child support amount, however, you should make sure that the agreement is in writing and you should still get that agreement ratified by the Courts. Though some parents may want to agree to waive child support, remember: child support is a right of the child, not of the parent, so no parent can agree to waive child support.
It is important to remember that in Florida, the court that initially entered the child support order has jurisdiction over the case and will be in charge of making the modifications. The court will make modifications for more or less support in the event that it is in the best interest of the child, when the child reaches the age of majority, or when there is a change of life circumstances for one or both of the parents. Either parent, the one paying or receiving child support, can petition for a modification.
Proving the Need for the Modification
A court will not simply grant a modification based on a petition alone. There needs to be proof that there is a need for the modification. The “change of circumstances” needs to be significant enough that it will affect one party’s ability to pay and support the child. It is important to remember that the courts of Florida will not modify a child support order if the reason for having a significant change in life circumstances, such as income, was voluntary. For example, if someone decides that they are going to voluntarily stop working or work less hours on purpose so as to pay less child support, so long as they are “able bodied” the Court will sill impute income on that person and they will still be required to pay the calculated child support.
What Do You Need to Do?
No matter whether you are seeking a modification so that you can increase or decrease the child support payments, you need to make sure that you are working with an experienced attorney who can help. Even when both of the parents agree to a modification it is a good idea to have an attorney walk you through the process and provide you with the information you need. The attorney can ensure that you take care of everything the proper way, and will let you know your chance of actually getting a modification. Contact us for more information how we can help you with your child support modification.
Did you also know that child support can be extended beyond the age of 18 in certain circumstances?…..stay tuned to learn more!