Florida Child Support Modification Laws

Child support payments are based on factors including parental income and the costs of other expenses. Since these factors can change, it's possible that these changes could result in a modified child support order. For instance, suppose a father pays a mother $1,000 a month for child support; however, he has recently lost his job and can no longer afford the payments. A solution to the issue is that the father can file for a child support modification which could reduce his support obligation.

Florida courts calculate child support according to an "income shares" model. This means that the court will try to estimate the amount of money that the parents would've spent on the child had they remained together; the estimated amount is divided between the parents based on their incomes. The court uses state guidelines to arrive at a child support order and the amount is presumptively correct; the court typically must order the amount provided for according to the guidelines.

Once the order is in place, child support can be modified only if a parent can show a "substantial and ongoing change in circumstance." The burden is on the requesting parent to show such a change exists such as a shift in income, parenting time, or with certain expenses.

Florida Child Support Modification at a Glance

It's important to recognize the significance of the literal interpretation of a statute, but it's also beneficial to refer to a legal explanation that is written in a relatable manner. The chart below gives an overview of child support modification law in Florida.

Statute

  • Florida Civil Practice and Procedure 61.14

Income changes

  • Can be either a decrease in income or an increase in income.
  • No absolute amount of the income must change before petitioning for a modification.
  • Whatever the change, the revised income must result in the child support amount changing by at least 15% or $50 (whichever is greater).

Parenting time changes

A substantial change in the pattern of parenting time supports modification of child support. If there is deviation between the parenting plan and the actual parenting plan in practice, then the courts can recalculate child support based according to the actual parenting pattern as currently exercised by both parents.

Change in expenses

Certain changes in child associated costs can support changes in child support. For instance, the following:

  • Child care: When child care expenses have been incorporated into child support, any change can justify child support modification. However, the child care expenses must be related to employment needs; expenses for child care don't apply to stay at home parents.
  • Spousal support: Spousal support and child support are interrelated. Usually when the spousal support ends, the additional income is considered an income decrease or increase.
  • Additional child support orders (must be court ordered)
  • Taxes
  • Health insurance for children
  • Health insurance for the parent

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Florida Child Support Modification: Related Resources

Speak with a Florida Attorney about Child Support Modification

If your situation has changed and you need to modify your existing order, consider speaking to a local attorney. A child support attorney can help you navigate through the complexity of Florida's child support modification laws.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.