Seeking modifications of child support orders

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Your children are your world, and you likely spend much less time with them than you would like. While you may have balked at the amount of child support the court ordered you to pay, you know it is your obligation to provide for your kids, and you willingly comply with the order.

However, things are getting tough. Maybe you have lost your job, suffered a medical emergency or are dealing with another type of financial setback. If you are having trouble meeting your other bills, you may worry about your ability to keep up with child support payments. Since the penalties and consequences are significant for falling behind on your support obligations, you will want to investigate the potential for modifying your court order.

Understanding the law

It is possible to petition a Florida family court for a modification of your child support order under certain circumstances. Since the laws for child support modification are different in each state and are subject to change, it would be wise to investigate the factors that Florida accepts as valid for requesting changes in your child support amount.

You can also discuss the situation with your co-parent, who may be willing to accept a lower amount temporarily. However, this can be tricky because you will have no legal protection if you fail to pay what the court ordered. With an attorney's assistance, you can petition the court for a lower amount, either permanently or temporarily, keeping these things in mind:

  • The court will not retroactively reduce your payments, so if you have fallen behind, you will still owe back payments at the original rate.
  • You may have to wait to get a modification hearing, so you should comply with standing orders in the best way you can until then.
  • It will help a judge with the decision if you provide ample documentation of the changes that have occurred since the execution of the support order.
  • The court will also be interested in a detailed accounting of your current expenses.

You should make your petition for modification of your court-ordered child support with the same court that issued the original order. You will also send a copy of the documents to the other parent. With the guidance of an attorney, you may be able to obtain a modification which will allow you to continue supporting your children and meeting your other financial obligations as well.

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