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Family - Child Support

An initial child support order usually follows the Child Support Guidelines. But situations change, children grow, and your initial support order may need to be modified. We can explain how state child support guidelines will apply to you, help you enforce a support order, and get money owed to you. We also defend parents who have been unfairly overcharged and those facing legal penalties for failing to pay support.

Florida law imposes a duty on each parent to provide financial support for his or her minor children. This duty exists during the marriage and continues following the divorce. Child Support obligations are calculated through the use of a statutory formula, which takes into account a variety of factors such as monthly income, medical insurance, daycare expenses and time-sharing. Because the precise amount of the obligation can be determined mathematically, Child Support is often one of the simplest components of a family law case to resolve. However, it is vital that both parties are honest and open about their economic situations.

Child support belongs to the child only and not to the residential parent. As such, it is independent of any agreements the parents make between themselves. The court will always order child support based upon the factors outlined above. You and your child's other parent may agree to modify the child support terms, but even an agreed-upon modification for child support must be approved by a judge to be legally enforceable.

If you and your ex can't agree on a change, you must request the court to hold a hearing in which each of you can argue the pros and cons of the proposed modification. As a general rule, the court will not modify an existing order unless the parent proposing the modification can show changed circumstances. This rule encourages stability of arrangements and helps prevent the court from becoming overburdened with frequent and repetitive modification requests. Depending on the circumstances, a modification may be temporary or permanent.

Examples of the types of changes that frequently support temporary modification orders are:

  • A child's medical emergency
  • The payer's temporary inability to pay (for instance, because of illness or an additional financial burden such as a medical emergency or job loss), or
  • Temporary economic or medical hardship on the part of the recipient parent. A permanent modification may be awarded less than one of the following circumstances:
  • Either parent receives additional income from remarriage
  • Changes in the child support laws
  • Job change of either parent
  • Cost of living increase
  • Disability of either parent, or
  • Needs of the child.

A permanent modification of a child support order will remain in effect until support is no longer required or the order is modified at a later time -- again, because of changed circumstances.