How to Modify a Child Support Arrangement
Aug. 19, 2022
If you have children and you’ve gone through a divorce, you may have a child support arrangement already in place. This kind of support is typically paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to help with the expenses of raising a child. Just because an order is in place, though, doesn’t necessarily mean it accurately reflects what each parent is able to provide or that the judgment is being followed. According to a report put out by the U.S. Census Bureau, the average custodial parent is owed around $5,519 per year in child support, but only actually receives $3,431.
If you’ve encountered an issue with your child support and would like to pursue a modification, reach out to an experienced family law attorney today. Veliz Katz Law is located in Orlando, Florida, but can help those throughout Central Florida, including Kissimmee, Winter Park, and Maitland.
Reasons to Modify a Child Support Arrangement
A child support arrangement should always meet the needs of the child and accurately reflect the financial means that each parent brings to the table along with their necessary life expenses. Because of this, one common reason you may seek a child support modification is when there’s been a change in the financial situation of one parent. This could mean one parent was promoted to a new job that pays a higher salary; or, conversely, they may have taken on a job that pays less.
Another reason you may need to modify a support order is if there’s been a change in custody since the original order was filed. For example, if one parent had full custody of the child to begin with, but now custody is split evenly, the child support awarded to the first parent would need to change to reflect the reduced amount of time the child is spending with them.
Other significant life changes could include one parent becoming disabled, one parent having another child with a new partner, the health or educational needs of the child changing, or either parent remarrying. These are all reasons the support calculation could change, although each request will be individually evaluated by a judge. Additionally, if one parent isn’t upholding their obligations to pay or feels they’re paying too much, these issues could be brought to court.
Florida Guidelines for
Modifying Child Support
Florida law allows for modification of support orders under a few circumstances. In general, either parent can request a modification if there’s been a “substantial change in circumstances,” or if the existing order has been in place for at least three years. If the change in circumstances amounts to at least a $50 or 15% difference (whichever is greater) in the current order, then it is deemed “substantial.”
Because many of these requests are made due to an increase or decrease in income, both parents will typically have to provide documentation to the court that confirms their total income and expenses. Unfortunately, some parents will intentionally remain unemployed or underemployed as a way to skirt their child support obligations, but this is a dangerous tactic. If a judge believes you’re falsely representing your employment capacity, they can impute your income. This means they’ll assign a dollar amount of what you should be earning based on your work history and education and then calculate payments based on this amount.
How Remarriage Affects Support
Many divorced parents want to know about remarriage and child support, and how one may affect the other. Getting remarried doesn’t necessarily mean your child support obligations will change, but a court may consider the new spouse’s income in some cases. If the new spouse has a considerably larger income than the parent receiving the support, a judge can include this new income source in their calculations which could mean a reduction in monthly payments. In these cases, since the new spouse would be contributing more toward the household expenses, the parent would theoretically have more money freed up to provide for their child. It’s also worth noting that if the paying parent remarries, a judge will not increase the amount the parent pays, even if the new spouse has a larger income.
Additionally, if the remarried couple go on to have another child, this will likely not drastically affect the amount that’s paid or received by either parent—but this matter should be discussed with your child support attorney.
Seek Experienced Legal Guidance
Co-parenting after a divorce is never easy, but with court orders in place that outline custody and child support requirements, it can make the process a little easier. However, because your lives will inevitably change as will the needs of your children, it will occasionally be necessary to seek a modification of these orders to better reflect the means of each parent. If you’d like to speak to a child support lawyer in Orlando, Florida, call David W. Veliz at Veliz Katz Law to set up a consultation.