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What Can I Do If My Child Support Obligation Is Too High?
Florida child support laws dictate that each parent has a legal obligation to support their child financially. The legal obligation to provide financial support does not end when the child’s parents divorce or separate. Indeed, Florida child support guidelines tell us how much parents should pay to support their children when they separate or divorce.
However, what happens when a parent’s circumstances change and they are paying too much for child support? Child support obligations can be modified in Florida when a parent files a motion with the court to lower child support payments.
Until the court modifies your child support payments, you should continue making the court-ordered payments. Taking immediate action to modify child support payments that are too high can help you avoid accumulating child support arrearage.
Calculating Child Support Obligations
Child support obligations are based on the Florida child support guidelines. The guidelines set forth factors that the judge considers when deciding which parent is responsible for paying child support payments and the amount of the monthly child support payments.
There are several factors used to calculate child support obligations:
The income of each parent
Time-sharing with the child
Child care costs
Health insurance premiums
Non-covered dental, medical, and medication payments
The number of children the parties share together
The courts have the ability to consider all relevant factors. Judges may deviate from the child support guidelines up to five percent for good cause. A judge could deviate further from the guidelines if an award based on the guidelines would be inappropriate or unjust.
Filing a Motion to Modify Child Support Payments in Florida
Either parent has the right to file a motion to modify the child support payments. A parent may file a motion to modify child support payments that are too high or if they believe they are receiving too little in child support payments.
Child support payments are only modified if the parent can show a substantial change in circumstances since the original child support order was granted.
Examples of a substantial change in circumstances include:
The paying parent has lost their job
The paying parent’s income has decreased substantially
The paying parent has become disabled
The receiving parent is earning more money or has additional resources
The children’s expenses have decreased
On the other hand, some factors could justify an increase in the amount of child support a parent receives. For example, if the receiving parent’s income decreases because of a job loss or disability, the court could increase the amount of the child support payments. Also, if the children’s expenses increase, the paying parent may be ordered to pay a higher amount of child support.
Is Modification to Child Support Payments Retroactive?
No, modifications of child support payments go into effect the date the attorney files a petition to modify the child support obligation. The parent would be responsible for any child support arrearage at the higher amount through the filing date of the motion to modify.
However, there is an exception. The time-sharing schedule is a significant factor in the amount of child support payments a parent must pay. Therefore, deviation from a time-sharing plan could result in retroactive child support.
Suppose a parent deviates from the court-ordered time-sharing schedule, and that is the reason why a parent files the motion to modify child support payments. In that case, the court could order a retroactive adjustment based on the date the parent stopped spending as much time with the child.
Do Not Stop Paying Child Support Payments Without a Court Order
You may know that your child support payments are too high. However, if you stop paying the payments or reduce the child support amount without court approval, you could face penalties and sanctions for failing to pay child support.
If you are struggling to pay your child support payments because of a change of circumstances, talk with an Orlando child support lawyer immediately. Waiting to talk with a lawyer until you cannot make the payments makes matters worse.
You could be entitled to a reduction in your child support payments. An experienced family law attorney can review your situation and advise you of your options and legal rights. Don’t wait until matters are desperate to get the legal help you need.