Child Support Modification
Jacksonville Family Law and Divorce Lawyers
In Florida, every parent has a fundamental obligation to support their minor or legally dependent child. Once a child support order has been entered, that amount may only be modified under certain circumstances. These decisions can be complicated in some cases, particularly when one parent contests the issue. If you have questions about modifying a support order, a Jacksonville child support attorney can advise you. At Ellis and Bryant, we understand that certain life-changes can have an impact on a parent’s ability to pay, or a child’s need for support. We can explain your options and help you decide the appropriate course of action.
Child Support Modification in Florida
Generally, child support is a dual obligation imposed on both parents. As a practical matter, the parent with whom the child lives for the majority of the time typically receives payment from the other parent. The starting point for determining the amount of support payments is found under the Florida child support guidelines. Although the court may consider an agreement of the parents to establish or modify the amount of child support, the court is bound by Florida laws when deciding the initial support order and any later modifications.
After the initial child support order is entered by the court, either parent may file a petition to modify the amount, terms, and conditions of the payments. In most cases, the court that entered the initial support order will have continuing jurisdiction over the matter. Florida law allows for child support modification only when the court finds a substantial change in the circumstances of the parties, and it is in the best interest of the child. In addition, child support payments may be terminated when the child reaches the age of majority, is emancipated, marries, joins the armed services, or upon the death of the child or parent. Some of the most common situations that lead to a petition for modification of child support are described below.
Change in Parent’s Income
An increase or decrease in the income of either the paying or receiving parent may be grounds to modify child support. While there is no minimum amount by which a parent’s income must change, it must result in at least $50 or 15% of the support amount, whichever is greater. A child support lawyer can assist in calculating this amount. Voluntary underemployment, however, is not a sufficient reason and may result in imputed income.
Change in Parenting Time
A petition for child support modification may be filed when there has been a substantial change in the pattern of parenting time. This does not necessarily require a modified parenting plan as well. Rather, Florida courts may consider the actual custody [link to Child Custody] arrangement of the parties as well as the parenting plan when calculating the support obligation. If the parents have substantially deviated from the original parenting plan, the court may modify child support to reflect the true parenting time of each parent.
Change in Child-Related Expenses
The types of child-related expenses that justify a modification are very specific and limited. A substantial increase or decrease in the costs of education, childcare, and/or healthcare expenses have been grounds in some cases to modify child support. In addition, child support may be modified if the payor-parent has another child, as court-ordered support payments for other children are generally deducted from one’s total income when calculating support obligations.
Contact a Jacksonville Attorney for Child Support Modification
Whether you are struggling to make child support payments, or you believe that your child needs an increased amount of financial support, we can help. At Ellis and Bryant, our Jacksonville lawyers are prepared to assist with modification of child support, spousal support, and other family law matters. We serve people in areas throughout Duval and Clay Counties, particularly Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Orange Park, and Middleburg. Schedule your free consultation today by calling (904) 551-4120 or contacting Ellis and Bryant online.