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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Cheri was referred to me by another local attorney who was not taking any more clients. I couldn’t be happier to have had her represent me during my case. She is very professional and kind. I had another attorney who was great but I dealt with his assistant most of the time. With Cheri I could always go to her directly if I needed to. She is busy too of course but always found time to answer questions for me and calm my nerves. She gave me all of my options from the least costly to other options that may cost more but are worth it. I am glad I took her advice. In the hearing with the judge she was very professional and had my whole case together. She handled herself very well and made the opposing counsel look like a college student. She knows her stuff! Very knowledgable, professional, caring and dependable. I’d highly recommend her!

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  • annoyed

    I have been paying child support for the lasy 18 months to the mother who does not have custody is pocketing the money an no longer lives in the state. Does anyone now if I can suspend child support

    • HowardIken

      Yes. But you must do it correctly. You need to file for modification of the last court order. Why doesn’t the mother have custody? If you are the father, why did you not get custody?

  • Irritated Mom

    I filed through the dept of revenue for my child support case and recently did a supplemental modification of child support because my childs father makes a lot more money now they haven’t been able to serve him in 5 months (he lives out of state) and so now there is an order dismissing the supplemental petition if he isn’t served i know what he is doing she turns 18 in august he is just hiding until then. is there anything i can do?

    • HowardIken

      You can retain a private attorney or private process server to assist in getting him served. The DOR uses the sheriff and that is not the most efficient method.

      • Irritated Mom

        The DOR is using a private process server already they said. So can I refile the Petition for Modification once it’s been dismissed? Won’t I have to cite change of circumstance in addition to the ones in the current petition? Thanks!

        • HowardIken

          Once the petition is dismissed it will be as if it never existed. Also, you get what you pay for. The DOR does not put personal attention into anything.

  • Laurie O’Shea

    Can you do substitute or constructive service on a petition to modify child support?

    • HowardIken

      Yes. If done properly.

  • Ruth Rivera

    I was served with a summons yesterday because the father want a motion on child support,and I have 20 days to respond to the summons and don’t know what kind of paper I need from the court to respond to this summons,,

    • Attorney Howard Iken

      We cannot advise on selection of paperwork in this online discussion area.

  • Joe

    My son Is autistic. He has been baker acted three times in the last couple of months for aggressive behavior towards his mom. Mom does not want him back. He is living with me and will be placed in a group home shortly. Do I still have to pay her child support?

    • Attorney Howard Iken

      You do if there is still a support order in place. You need to take proper steps to modify the support order.

  • cymbree

    Thirty times the Federal poverty level is $217.50. Can an IDO for child support and arrearages cause a persons income to fall below this amount? My husband just received an IDO that will make his weekly take home pay $182.40. Who can live on that?