Florida Statute 61.30 governs the making and modification of child support orders in this state. If you, your child, or your child’s other parent have experienced a change in your financial situation that you believe may warrant a new support order, you will need competent legal counsel to help you file a successful petition.
Florida follows the Income Shares Model method of determining support. Both parents’ net incomes are added together to determine the combined household net income. Then a specific support amount is given by the Child Support Guidelines Chart based on that combined net income. The amount of each parent’s portion of the support obligation is based on that parent’s percentage of the net income. Certain other amounts for child care and medical expenses can also be added to the support amount.
A parent seeking a modification of a support order must show a “substantial change in circumstances” before a court will grant a petition. Specifically, there must be a difference of $50 or 15%, whichever is greater, between the previous support amount and the new amount provided for by the guidelines in order for a court to find that the change is sufficient enough to warrant a modification in the support order.
The court will consider various factors in its determination including: a change in employment or in income for either parent, a change in a parent’s health that will increase expenses or that parent’s financial ability to contribute support, the availability of health insurance for the child, a change in child care costs, a change in the child’s medical expenses, or the emancipation of a child. Only changes of a continuing nature that were unknown at the time the previous support order was made will be considered. If a parent was responsible for the loss of employment or reduction of income, then that fact may negatively impact that parent’s request for a modification. Factors that a court will not consider include the addition of children to one parent’s household through remarriage. As with all court decisions affecting children in the family law context, the best interest of the child governs the outcome.
A court’s decision as to whether to grant a petition for a child support modification is very specifically guided by the Florida Statute and case law. Any petition must be tailored to the standards in the law or it may not succeed. Furthermore, evidence must be presented that is sufficient to support the finding of a substantial change. It may even be necessary to dig more deeply into the causes of one parent’s unemployment in order to successfully contest that parent’s demand for more support.
The Gainesville Child Support Lawyers at The Law Office of Silverman, Vorhis & Mack can help you obtain the support order modification you and your child are entitled to under the law, as well as assist you in opposing one that you believe is not warranted. Please call us for a consultation at 866-663-4902, or locally at 352-337-8373.