Grounds for Modifying a Support Order in Florida
It is rare that a person’s circumstances today will be exactly as they were five years ago, or that they will remain the same within the next five years. Unexpected job loss, injury, an increase in healthcare costs, a decrease in daycare costs, and other unforeseen events may put a person in a better or worse financial position than he or she was in when the Florida courts first handed down a child support order. To account for changes in circumstances, the courts may allow for modification of support orders. However, a court may only grant a modification in limited circumstances.
Child Support and the Standard Needs of a Child
Florida judges are not quick to modify child support orders upon request, as they are very deliberate in how they determine support amounts in the first place. One parent cannot bear this expense alone, hence the need for child support and the courts’ unwillingness to stray from state guidelines.
State guidelines are in place to ensure that parents have enough money to cover a child’s most basic necessities and possibly luxuries the child would have enjoyed had his or her parents not separated. Per Florida law, child support is designed to cover the following expenses:
- Basic necessities;
- Educational costs;
- Medical expenses;
- Extracurricular activities; and
Depending on the wording of the agreement, a person may be responsible for college expenses and any non-covered medical, dental, or prescription medications of the child.
Modifying a Support Order
In order to modify a child support order in Florida, you must first prove a substantial change of circumstances since the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage was entered. If it has been considerable time since you and your spouse separated, or if you were never married, the change in circumstance must have occurred since the last time a Florida Family Court addressed your child support arrangement.
One or both parents may petition for modification due to a change in financial circumstances. However, for a court to give credence to the request, the petitioning party must prove that the change is both substantial and involuntary in nature. Some situations that might warrant a modification of support include the following:
- Significant change in the financial ability or income of either party, which may or may not be due to loss of income, involuntary job loss, hospitalization, or long-term health concerns;
- An increase in income due to a new business venture, promotion, or new employment that offsets the child support equation; or
- Childcare is no longer necessary, or the child becomes emancipated.
It is not enough, however, to prove that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. A court will only modify an existing order if the new amount is at least 15 percent more or less (or $50.00 per month, whichever is greater) than the previous amount.
Contact a Boca Raton Modification Attorney
If you have undergone a recent change in circumstances that is substantial and that affects your ability to provide for your child, retain the help of a qualified Boca Raton modification lawyer. One of our attorneys here at Wise Lieberman, PLLC, can present your case in a favorable light and argue the need for a modification. To get on the path to a more secure financial future for yourself and your child, contact our law firm today.