What Constitutes Substantial Change for Someone Modifying Child Support in Florida?

By Beverly Bird

Florida courts are aware that when parents part ways, their life circumstances may change. Children grow, lifestyles alter and parents’ incomes go up or down. The state’s legislation includes provisions for parents to go back to court when any such change affects their ability to pay child support or the children’s need to receive it. Parents can file a petition with the court, explaining the change and asking a judge to recalculate support based on the new circumstances.

Parenting Time

Florida passed a law effective January 1, 2011, mandating a modification of child support when the noncustodial parent’s time with his children increases to 20 percent or more of the year. If children were spending every other weekend with their noncustodial parent, sleeping over on Friday and Saturday nights, this would work out to about 52 nights a year, or approximately 14 percent of the time. If the children began spending Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights with that parent every other weekend, that would be 78 nights a year, or about 21 percent of the time. This parent can petition the court to have his child support obligation adjusted downward to allot for this extra visitation, and the judge is obligated to do so.

Changes in Income

If either parent’s income drops or increases significantly, it can warrant a child support adjustment in Florida. The change must be of such magnitude that recalculating child support based on parents’ current incomes results in a difference of at least $50 a month or 15 percent more or less than the old amount. If the paying parent loses his job or endures a drastic pay cut, or if the custodial parent’s income increases due to new employment or a big raise, the child support amount would go down. If the paying parent’s income increases greatly or the custodial parent loses her job or takes a pay cut, the child support amount would adjust upward.

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Children's Needs

If the children’s needs change, this might also warrant a child support modification in Florida. If the paying parent is contributing support for three children and the oldest child emancipates or reaches the age when child support is no longer required, the court will recalculate support downward to address only the needs of two children. If one parent loses an employment perk of low-cost or free health insurance and must now pay for the children’s coverage, this would amount to a substantial change. If both parents are working more hours and the children must now spend more time in daycare, this can increase child support, because Florida includes such expenses in support calculations.

Duration of Change

Changes of circumstance must be long-term and can’t be voluntary on the part of either parent. For example, if a parent loses his job and petitions the court for a child support modification within a week, the court isn’t likely to grant the change. If that parent can show he’s been actively looking for work for months but hasn’t become re-employed, the court would probably adjust his child support obligation. If a parent elects to change careers and accepts a much lower-paying job in the process, a request to adjust child support would probably be denied.

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How Often Can You Check an Ex-Spouse's Income for Child Support in North Carolina?

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Kentucky State Laws on Child Support Collection

When parents separate or divorce, the parent who does not have primary custody of the children will be required to pay child support to the other. Child support reduces the financial burden on the parent who has custody of the child most of the time. In Kentucky, child support laws are set forth in Section 402 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS).

Can Child Support Go Up When a Spouse Makes More Money in California?

Child support orders are not permanent, but instead adaptable to particular changes of circumstance. In California, the modification process begins with a petition to the court and the judge will look to whether a material change in circumstances has occurred, with enhanced wealth typically qualifying as such a change. However, it is important to understand that increased income is only one factor of many the court will take into consideration when determining whether or not to increase support.

What Percentage of Income Does Child Support Take for One Kid?

Each state's laws determine how much child support a non-custodial parent must pay after a divorce, and the rates and method of calculation vary between states. These payments are intended to pay for a child's normal expenses, such as housing, food, clothing and education. Though courts frequently use the guidelines to set child support amounts, courts do not have to follow them in cases where they would not be appropriate, such as when a child needs special medical care because of a disability.

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