Seeking Changes In Child Support
Just because your divorce decree establishes certain amounts that are to be paid for alimony and child support does not mean that they may never be changed if there is reason to do so. In Florida, it is possible to seek changes to your child support payments if you are able to show that something in your life has changed to a point where you need the court to reevaluate what was previously agreed upon. However, there is a procedure to do so that must be followed; protocol must be observed.
Florida’s rules for modifying child support are both similar and different to other states’ in that they follow a predictable pattern, but have a few restrictions that are less common. Like in any state, modifications may be requested, either from the Florida Department of Revenue (FDR), or from a judge. The FDR will only consent to review your support order, however, if none has occurred within the past 3 years, or if you can show a substantial change in circumstances. A judge will generally not make you wait 3 years, but may nonetheless decline to grant your motion to adjust if it has not been enough time since your divorce was finalized.
Florida law does include one unusual provision which states that even if the obligee (the person paying support) has a backlog they owe, the court may still grant the modification requested if it deems there is cause to grant it. Many states will do the opposite and refuse to adjust support amounts until any arrearage has been paid, but the rationale in Florida is that a substantial change in circumstances most often affects income level, and the obligee may have a good-faith reason for not paying the full amount on time.
How To Seek Modification
In order to seek modification of your support order, a petition must be filed in court (or with the FDR) alleging that substantial change in circumstances. Some of the most common “substantial” changes include pay cuts, disability (incurred by either the parent or the child), and relocation (meaning that the obligee may have more or less time with the child). It is important to note, however, that if someone voluntarily takes a pay cut or relocates, the court will almost certainly decline to make any modification in your support – generally, the reasoning is that such a change is one that the obligee brings upon themselves.
The court will also consider other factors in deciding whether or not to grant your request. The paramount concern is whether or not the change is in the best interests of the child. This standard is the state’s default when determining issues of family law, and it will not be overridden by any concerns that the obligee-parent might have – a parent has an obligation to their child or children to provide support (that right actually belongs to the child under Florida law, rather than to the custodial parent).
Seek Experienced Legal Help
While your children’s welfare comes first for the state, in most cases, an acceptable modification to support payments can be arranged that strikes an appropriate balance. Having a knowledgeable attorney on your side to answer any questions can make a difference in the process. The Hollywood support modification attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. are happy to try and help you with your case. Contact the Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. for legal advice at 954-963-5900 or leave a message online.