When you have a court-ordered child support agreement in place and circumstances change, the child support amount needed to be paid may also need to be modified — something which requires a modification of the parenting plan and requires legal input. Here in Florida, our laws are firmly established on the important practice of ensuring that children receive the financial support they need to survive and thrive, while upholding parental rights at the same time. Therefore, if you are seeking a child support modification - whether you are the parent who pays it or the parent who receives it – you should be aware of when and how to seek changes in Florida. 

Typically, changes in a child’s needs or the parents’ ability to pay can merit a modification of support. In order for a court to grant you a modification, it must first be determined that there has been a “substantial change” since the original child support agreement was reached. “Substantial changes” include changes in net income, loss of a job, a decrease in hours, a stay-at-home parent taking a minimum-wage job and other jobs of similar stature. Additionally, changes that may arise in the cost of living or the cost of a child’s needs may also be grounds for modification.

Your first step in obtaining a child support modification is to make sure that you fully understand child support laws in Florida — particularly ones that pertain to making modifications. It can be overwhelming not only to educate yourself on these laws, but also to gather the necessary paperwork and evidence. For this reason, it is always best to contact a Miami Family Law lawyer who is knowledgeable and experienced in obtaining modifications of support. 

The Miami family law lawyer you select should be formally educated and have extensive experience in the area of family law. They can then provide you with detailed information on the applicable child support laws for the state of Florida. When you visit a licensed family law attorney, their team can walk you through the whole modification process. This includes what documents that must be gathered to prove your case, varying fees associated with the process, the necessary forms you must complete, the applicable timeline for filing and the possibility of a court date. 

Importantly, in order for you or your Miami family law lawyer to seek a modification or to change your existing child support agreement, you must file your request with the family court. The original document must be filed with appropriate edits and be noted as such; no new forms should be filled out — only additions or alterations may be made. The new document is then added to the existing court order, and a copy must be served to the other parent. It is at this point you will begin the process of considering a motion modification, which means a hearing may be requested to review the petition to determine if the court can approve the changes. 

In summary, if a substantial change has taken place in order for a child support modification to be altered in Florida, the original agreement must be modified — not replaced — and that document must be submitted to the court system. For help understanding and navigating the process, it's highly advised to involve a seasoned Miami family law lawyer, who has experience in obtaining child support modifications prior to submitting any forms. A lawyer can assist in gathering the necessary evidence, filing forms timely and ensuring accuracy for a beneficial outcome. 

At Rafool, LLC, our Miami family law attorneys are ready to help take on your case. We have experience with multiple types of cases with lawyers that have years of experience. To request a consultation, visit us online, or call 305.567.9400.