WHAT HAPPENS IF I CAN’T AFFORD TO PAY MY COURT ORDERED CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATION?
When circumstances change substantially for a parent paying child support, it may seem impossible to afford child support. The parent who can no longer afford child support may need to file a Supplemental Petition to Downward Modify Child Support seeking a reduction in her court ordered child support obligation. The basis for a child support modification in Florida starts with the legal requirement of substantial change of circumstances since the entry of the final judgment or final order. A change of circumstances is considered substantial when it is significant, material, permanent, and involuntary in nature. For example, a substantial increase or decrease of at least 15% or greater in either parent’s income may qualify as a substantial change in most Florida courts.
Some possible scenarios that may result in a substantial change of circumstances, if involuntary and permanent in nature, are as follows:
- An involuntary loss of employment
- An involuntary reduction in income
- A substantial change in parenting time
- A substantial change in expenses, such as the child may no longer need to be in daycare
- The receiving parent had a substantial increase in income
- The payor parent becomes ill and/or has become disabled and is unable to work
After the party seeking the reduction files the Supplemental Petition to Downward Modify their child support obligation, the parties will then be ordered to attend mediation. If the parties are unable to resolve the case at mediation, a final hearing will be held before the Judge or General Magistrate. The Court will consider whether there has been a substantial change in circumstances and whether the modification is in the best interest of the minor children. If the Court finds that the Petitioner has proven these two legal elements, it will calculate the child support by considering the parents net incomes and their timesharing schedule. This calculation is the formula outlined in the Florida child support guidelines.
You may be wondering “what can I do, as the custodial parent, if the Florida Child Support Guidelines amount is not enough to cover the child’s basic monthly expenses?” If this does occur you may want to file a Motion for an Upward Deviation of the Child Support amount. We will go into more detail about the filing of a Motion for an Upward Deviation of Child Support in our next blog.
If you have questions regarding child support modification or non-payment of child support, contact The Law Office of Patricia Palma, P.A. at 813-258-3211 to make an appointment to discuss your case in detail.