Florida allows for the modification of a child support orders. There are a number of case specific exceptions that may apply to you, which is why it is so important to meet with an attorney to review your specific situation. As a general rule:
- The parent requesting a modification must show that there has been a substantial change in the circumstances of the parties. (Or that the child is emancipated, married, has joined the armed services, or has died).
- A “substantial change in circumstances” can be any number of things. However, the most common way to show a substantial change in circumstances is to demonstrate that the new child support order will vary by at least 15% (or $50) from the old child support order.
- The 15%/$50 change is usually the result of changes in the parents’ incomes, or the entry of a new parenting plan (custody order) that substantially changes the number of overnights a child spends with each parent.
Department of Revenue Involvement
Many child support modifications are initiated by the Florida Department of Revenue. (Manatee and Sarasota Counties have major differences on how case initiated by the Department are handled). The Department is limited in the issues it can address and the time it can spend on any given case. As a result, the Department may not take all relevant issues into account. For example, under the terms of your parenting plan you may be paying a number of child related expenses which should be considered, when modifying child support. Also, if child support is to be modified, it may be fair to also change which parent claims the children for federal tax purposes. If you represent yourself against the Department, these issues may get swept under the rug.