Can child support payments be modified?

Child Support Modification

Yes. Florida law permits a modification in the amount of child support payments, provided that the party requesting for the modification shows that there is a substantial change in circumstances since the date of the order setting the amount.

Florida courts have found that the loss of a job or changes in the parties’ income may qualify as substantial change in circumstances, provided that the change is permanent in nature.

What you need to prove:

A party who wants to change the amount of child support payments must establish one of the following: (1) A substantial change in circumstances; OR (2) The child has attained the age of 18.

Substantial Change in Circumstances:

A fundamental prerequisite for a modification of child support is the showing of a substantial change in circumstances. To qualify as such, a change must be material, involuntary, and permanent. 

In addition to being material, involuntary, and permanent, a substantial change in circumstances warrants modification only if the change was not contemplated or anticipated at the time of the original support order. 

Generally, anticipated future events are not factors in setting child support because of the uncertainty on whether these events will occur. Events that are contingent on the happening of other events cannot be contemplated in setting child support, and therefore do not preclude modification if and when it occurs.

Exceptions:

A change in circumstances that is temporary may justify modification so long as it is involuntary and substantial. In such a case, the trial court may enter an order temporarily reducing the parent’s child support obligation.

For example, the First District Court of Appeals found that a former husband was entitled to an order temporarily reducing child support payments during the time it was reasonably necessary for him to reestablish himself after losing his job. See Manning v. Manning, 600 So. 2d 1274 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992).

Additionally, there is an exception to the voluntariness requirement in cases involving parents who plan to or have reduced their income to pursue education. Modifications based on such reductions in income may be allowed if they are in the children’s best interests.

Conclusion:

If you have questions about whether your circumstances warrant a modification in your child support payments, it’s best to ask a qualified family law attorney.

Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your position, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.

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Legal Lotus, P.A. is a Miami-based law firm specializing in family law, civil litigation, and the drafting of contracts, partnerships, and wills.

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