Modifying Child Support

A brief introduction to modification of child support in Florida

Requirement before Child Support Modification is filed:


Either the payer of child support, or the person that receives child support can request a child support modification.  Child support law allows anyone to file for modification any time the new support amount would change by at least $50 or 15%.  If the petition for modification will not result in the minimum change required by statute the petition will be dismissed by the court.


Procedure to File for Child Support Modification


The needed form is called a Supplemental Petition to Modify Child Support.  In many ways, it is just like a Petition for Divorce.  You must file a financial affidavit and supply the opposing party various financial documents.  The court that ultimately hears your case will be the same court where the original child support decree was issued.  If your original judge is still on the family law bench, that same judge will hear your case.  One exception is if neither party has an attorney.  In that case your petition will be heard by a General Magistrate, an alternate type of judge used to speed up the back-logged cases.  Another exception is if Florida Department of Child Support Enforcement is involved.  In that case, a Child Support Hearing Officer will hear the case.  The filing fee is $50 to reopen your case.  Your child support modification case will have the same case number as the original child support order.


How a Child Support Modification is Decided


There is one important fact in modifying child support: the current income of each parent.  Their expenses do not usually matter.  Their assets and liabilities do not usually matter.  Income and several other numbers are used to recalculate child support.  The same guidelines used in your original child support order are used to determine the new support amount.  The actual decision is mostly black and white and is taken straight off the charts.


How a Judge Views a Child Support Modification


Many people are worried the judge will think they are a deadbeat parent – when a supplemental petition for modification is filed.  This could not be further from the truth.  A child support modification is a legal right under Florida child support law.  The court is there to enforce legal rights – not make moral judgments.  If you qualify for modification, you are perfectly justified to apply.


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