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Child support is a by-product of a divorce proceeding or when paternity is determined for a child. The state of Florida has made it a point to ensure that each parent supports their legally dependent child, regardless if they are the custodial parent or not. This topic is many times very emotional and volatile for parents going through a divorce since it is often seen by one parent as giving their hard earned money to the other parent, and overlooking the fact that they are actually providing for the care of their children.
Child support amounts are ratified by a family court and they follow a strict prescribed formula that is based on both parent’s total combined net income. The idea is that each child receives an amount for their care and upbringing commiserate to an amount similar to as if the family unit was still living in an intact household, regardless of who is in fact receiving the actual payment.
The support formula factors in the net income for each of the parents, as well as the number of overnights a child will spend with each, to determine what the child support amount must be paid. Additionally, if a child has a special need or frequently incurs additional costs, like child care or medical costs - which are not considered as part of the child support calculation, the court may ask the non-custodial parent to pay additional support payments in order to help maintain the well-being of the child.
Please allow us to walk you through what the best course of action would be for you and your children.
Child Support Modification
A child support modification is just simply as the name states: petitioning the court to change the amount a parent is providing or receiving based on a material change in circumstance or income.
One of the articles that most commonly forces a modification is when one of the parent’s fail to follow the visitation schedule, or number of overnights, that was set in the child custody calculation and agreed upon in the dissolution of marriage document. A modification can occur if either parent, custodial or non-custodial, is not following their established and court approved schedule.
Since the child is spending more time with the other parent than agreed to, that parents child care cost are therefore higher and should be reflected in the custody amount. Additionally, when the modification is calculated, it may be retroactive to the date when the change in the time-sharing schedule first occurred, this is why it is important that each parent keep detailed record of the number of visitation that each followed and missed with their children.
Other factors that can force a modification are:
- Decrease in earnings or income: if a one of the parents has a significant change in their income and can no longer make their support payments, they must present to the court a petition for modification and show just cause of they can no longer make their court ordered payments. They must not stop making their regular payments unless it is approved by a court.
- Increase in earning or income: similarly, if one of the parents has a substantive increase in their income, the court can order an increase or reduction in support payments depending on the circumstances.
- A significant change in a child’s needs
- A parent has become incapacitated or disabled, or incarcerated.
It is important to remember that the non-custodial parent will have to pay child support until the child’s 18th birthday. Any payments or agreements made after their 18th birthday are strictly voluntary and cannot be enforced by the courts.
Let us help you walk through each scenario and determine if you would qualify for a modification in your child support based on your needs.