Sudden Changes To Child Support
When people with children get divorced, they must make provision for child support in all but the most rare circumstances. It is possible, over time, to modify a support agreement, though, especially if a significant or sudden change occurs in your life or in the life of your child or children. If a change is necessary, it can be made as long as you have a good understanding of the law in these matters.
Reasons For Modification Vary
Some reasons for modifying a child support agreement are those that both parents see coming, so to speak – perhaps the most common being one or more children reaching the age of majority. Florida law explicitly holds that unless the child has an incapacity or disability, support must end upon the child’s reaching the age of majority, barring an agreement reached by the parties for the support to continue. Sometimes spouses do agree on child support ending after the age of majority, but this is purely voluntary, and most often done to help pay for college expenses.
Other reasons can be much more surprising, and neither spouse may see them coming. A child becoming disabled is one common reason to seek a sudden change, with another being a sudden marriage or enlistment (both actions which effectively emancipate a child, especially since both require parental consent for a minor to do). Either way, all these events may be enough to necessitate a change in child support payments – either in stopping payments, or affecting the amount paid.
Florida law lets a parent seek a modification of child support amounts, or seek a cessation of support payments, upon showing that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. Most situations such as marriage or enlistment will generally be a substantial change in circumstances, but technically, even majority will meet this standard, as those over the age of majority who are not disabled are not presumed to require support. Other substantial changes in circumstances usually are income based – if someone loses their job, for example, or if expenses for the child’s care rise.
It is, however, important to keep in mind that even if you are successful in having your support payment ceased or lowered, you still owe any arrearages that exist. Any back payments must be tendered before a support obligation will be totally erased. In most situations – generally, a support modification only takes effect as of the date that the petition for modification is approved (it is important to note that you should apply for a modification as soon as practicable, because when approved, the modification would be retroactive to the date the petition was filed, but not before that). Failure to repay those arrearages can open you up to problems, up to and including charges in extreme examples.
Contact A Knowledgeable Attorney For Help
Child support is a necessity, but if there is a chance for most parents to pay less, they will try to take advantage of that opportunity. If you have questions about your own support obligations, calling an attorney with experience in these cases can be a big help. The Hollywood child support attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. can try to help guide you through what can be a complex process. 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.