Under Florida law, each parent has a legal obligation to support their child financially. This legal obligation doesn’t end with divorce or separation, and there are Florida child support guidelines dictating how much parents should pay to support their children in the case of divorce or separation. However, sometimes a parent’s circumstances change and they are no longer able to provide the same amount of child support as they did previously. In these cases, a parent can file a motion with the court to lower their child support payments. Remember- until the court changes your child support payments, you need to continue making the court-ordered payments or face potential legal consequences and accumulate child support arrearage.
How To Calculate Child Support Obligations
Florida child support guidelines establish child support obligations.These guidelines set forth factors that the judge evaluates when deciding which parent will pay child support payments and how much those payments will be. There are several factors the judge will consider when calculating child support obligations:
- Each parents’ income
- Time-sharing with the child
- Health insurance premiums
- Non-covered dental, medical, and medication payments for the child
- Child care costs
- The amount of children the two people share together
The courts will consider all relevant factors, and judges may deviate from pre-established child support guidelines up to five percent if there is good cause. They may deviate further at their discretion if an award strictly based on the guidelines is deemed unjust or inappropriate.
Modifying Child Support Payments In Florida
Both parents may file a motion to modify the child support payments. A parent may file a motion to modify child support payments if they believe they are too high or that they’re receiving too little. Child support payments can only be modified if the parent can prove a substantial change in circumstances since the original child support order was issued. Some examples of a substantial change in circumstances include:
- The paying parent’s income has decreased significantly
- The paying parent has lost their job
- The receiving parent is earning more money or gained additional resources
- The paying parent has become disabled
- The children’s expenses have shrunk
There are also factors that may justify increasing the amount of child support a parent receives. If the receiving parent’s income decreases due to a disability or job loss, for example, the court may increase the amount of the child support payments.
Any Modifications Are Not Retroactive
Modifications of child support payments go into effect when the attorney files a petition to modify the child support obligation. The parent is still responsible for any child support arrearage (owed child support) at the previously established amount through the filing date of the motion to modify.
The exception is if there is deviation from a time-sharing plan, which could result in retroactive child support. If a parent doesn’t stick to the court-ordered time-sharing schedule, and that is the cited reason for modifying child support payments, the court may order a retroactive adjustment depending on the date the receiving parent stopped spending as much time with the child.
Contact Us Today
Even if your current child support payments are too high, you cannot stop paying the appointed amount without having your motion approved. If you are unable to pay the amount previously established, consult with a family law attorney immediately. Call Swickle & Associates to speak with an experienced child support lawyer today.