Thinking about the Modification of Child Support

Introduction

Sometimes you need to ask the court to change a child support order. The court must find that there has been a substantial change in circumstances and that the modification in child support is in the child(ren)’s best interest. In this post, I will discuss how to modify child support.

Step 1: Filing out your paperwork

Let’s go over what needs to be on your petition or form for child support modification. Next, I will go over these items in more detail.

Your petition must include:

  • Your full legal name
  • The date of your divorce order or paternity order.
  • A copy of your divorce order.
  • A list of any previous modification orders.
  • The current amount of child support you and the other parent is paying.
  • What substantial change in circumstances requires a modification of child support.
  • How much more or less to change the child support you want.
  • Secondly, you must also explain how the change in child support is in the best interest of the child.
  • Your signature.

Additional forms that must you include:

Making your case for modification of child support

How do I complete my form?

Lawyers like me have to file lawsuits online. If you don’t have a lawyer you can file documents and evidence by regular mail or online. In the same fashion, if you choose online, you must do everything in your case online until the end. You will have to tell the court what your is your email. This form is the Designation of Current Mailing and E-mail Address. (Opens PDF, 694K). Moreover, you will need to put your email address on all the paperwork you sign in the case.

Notifying the other party (mom or dad)

After you file your petition in court, you have let the other parent know of the case. This is notice. If you know where he or she lives you should use personal service. Also, you can’t serve them yourself. You must hire a certified process server to give them a copy of the petition. However, if you don’t know where they live you can file constructive service. For more on constructive service see the Florida Statute.

The other party has twenty calendar days to answer.

What is a substantial change in circumstances?

According to the Florida Department of Revenues Child Support Page a change in circumstances can mean the following:

“The parent seeking to change (or modify) a support order has the burden to prove a change in circumstances. In most cases, before an order can be changed, a parent’s change in circumstances must be substantial, permanent, and involuntary.

If it has been less than three years since the support order was issued, reviewed or changed, a substantial change means that the change in circumstances would cause a change in the order amount that is at least 15 percent but not less than $50. If it has been more than three years since the support order was issued, reviewed, or changed, a change in circumstances means the change would cause a change in the order amount of at least 10 percent but not less than $25.

A permanent change in circumstances depends on the specific facts of the case. In most cases, to prove a permanent change, one must show the change has lasted for six months or more. Temporary or short-term changes are not enough to prove a lasting, permanent change. For example, a loss of employment is not a permanent change if you expect to find new employment. In some cases, a parent may be able to prove a permanent change right away; for example, a severe, life-changing injury or illness or retirement at the normal retirement age.

An involuntary change comes about through no fault of the parent, like an extended illness or employment layoff. A voluntary change is a result of the parent’s own choices. A voluntary change does not meet the standard for a support order to be changed. Examples of voluntary changes include quitting a job, being terminated for reasons within the parent’s control, taking a lower-paying job, or engaging in criminal conduct that results in incarceration.”

What is the best interest of the child?

In addition, the court must find that the change in child support is in the best interest of the child. According to the Florida Law

“Determination of the best interests of the child shall be made by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the particular minor child and the circumstances of that family,”

Florida Statutes 61.13.

There is a list of the factors that a court can look at to determine the best interests of the child.

Possible case outcomes

Also, there are three possible “next steps” once you file your petition.

Default

If there is no answer in 20 days, this is a default. Then you can file a motion for default. You will be able to schedule a final hearing and the court will usually grant your petition.

If a defendant in a lawsuit fails to respond to a complaint in the time set by law (commonly 20 or 30 days), then the plaintiff (suer) can request that the default (failure) be entered into the court record by the clerk, which gives the plaintiff the right to get a default judgment…

law.com

Uncontested.

If the respondent files an answer and doesn’t default and agrees with everything in your modification of the child support petition or an answer and waiver, then you can schedule a final hearing.

Contested

If the other party files an answer that contradicts any of the facts in your petition and you can come to an agreement, then you will have to file a notice for trial. The court will have a trial to decide the contested issue in this case changing child support. Both you and the other parent will have to file additional paperwork and make certain disclosures. What you have to do to prepare for trial depends on the facts of your case and what court your case is in. Some courts require mediation before setting a trial date, for instance.

Conclusion

In order to achieve success and have the court modify child support, you must do the following. First, you must prove that there is a substantial change in circumstances. Second, you must prove that it is in the best interests of the child. If the other parent fails to answer your petition, you can get a default judgment. Otherwise, if they answer they can either agree to the change or contest and you will have to go to trial.

Need more help? Contact Joel Lipinski at 727-643-8964 or fill out the form below. Please feel free to leave a comment!