Statutory Grounds for Modification of Child Support
In Florida, there are statutory grounds for the modification of child support:
- Section 61.13(1)(a) of the Florida Statutes provides that a modification of a child support award may be warranted “when the modification is found necessary by the court in the best interests of the child, when the child reaches majority, or when there is a substantial change in circumstances in the party”; and,
- Section 61.14(1)(a) of the Florida Statutes provides that a party may request an increase or decrease in child support if the circumstances regarding the financial ability of either party changes.
Substantial Change in Child Support Obligation per the Child Support Guidelines
Section 61.30(1)(b) of the Florida Statutes provides that “a substantial change in circumstances upon which a modification of an existing order may be granted” exists where the difference between the existing monthly child support obligation and the modified obligation provided for under the guidelines is at least 15 percent or $50, whichever is greater. Accordingly, the statutory grounds provided in both 61.13(1)(a) and 61.14(1)(a) may be triggered, and a modification of child support may be warranted if the current financial resources of the parents would cause the obligor’s monthly child support payment to increase or decrease by 15% of $50.
Substantial Change Due to Payor’s Failure to Regularly Exercise Timesharing Rights
Child support is based on the number of children, the joint income of the parents, and the number of overnights that each parent has with the children; therefore, a parent’s child support obligation is reduced when he or she is awarded substantial overnight timesharing. A parent’s failure to regularly exercise his or her timesharing may, therefore, constitute a substantial change in circumstances for purposes of modifying a parent’s child support obligation.
Procedure for Modification
The parent who is seeking a modification in child support must file a Petition for Modification of Child Support with the court in order to initiate the modification proceeding. The Petition must thereafter be served on the opposing party, and the opposing party will have twenty (20) days from the date that he or she was served with the Petition to file an Answer. Within forty-five (45) days of the date that the Petition is served, both parties must file sworn financial affidavits with the court and exchange their mandatory disclosures. The mandatory disclosures that the parties are required to exchange include but are not limited to three years of tax returns, three months of pay stubs, three months of checking account statements, twelve months of savings account statements, and twelve months of credit card statements.
After discovery has been completed, the parties will attend an evidentiary hearing on the Petition for Modification of Child Support during which the moving party has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that there has been a substantial change of circumstances which justify a modification of child support and that such modification is in the best interests of the children.