Under Florida law, a parent may file for a modification of child support if there is a “substantial and material change in circumstances” that was unanticipated by the parties. If a parent can successfully meet this burden, they must also show that the modification is in the child’s best interest. The only additional hurdle is that to modify a support order, the difference between the current child support order and the amount enumerated through the guidelines must be at least 15 percent or $50, whichever amount is greater.
It can be difficult to modify a support order. What constitutes a substantial and material change in circumstances is decided by Florida courts on a case-by-case basis. These are some of the events that a court may consider to be a substantial change in circumstances:
- Job loss
- An increase or decrease in income
- An increase or decrease in the child’s health insurance expenses
- An increase or decrease in the child’s school tuition or daycare expenses
- Not following the ordered parenting schedule
Every case is different; the outcome will depend on the specific facts of the case. That’s why it’s imperative you contact a Florida divorce attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.
It is important to note that modifying child support orders and modifying time-sharing agreements are different under Florida law. To modify a court-ordered time-sharing arrangement, there must be a “substantial, material, and unanticipated change of circumstances.” If a parent can successfully meet this burden, they must then show that the modification would be in the child’s best interest.
While the tests are similar, the required circumstances are different. These are a few examples of time-sharing modification cases where the court found that a substantial change in circumstances did not exist:
- Smoak v. Smoak — A mutually agreed-upon extended visitation during the child’s school year did not amount to a substantial change of circumstances.
- Halbert v. Morico — A father’s relocation did not amount to a substantial change since he had only moved 45 miles away and could still drive the child to and from school.
- Sidman v. Marino — A father’s exercise of an informal agreement between the parents allowing for an additional weekly overnight visit with him was found not to be a substantial change of circumstances.
Even though the hurdle is difficult to overcome in time-sharing cases, it’s not impossible: the Florida Supreme Court held in Wade v. Hirschman that parental alienation (the act of one parent to denigrate or undermine the other parent in the child’s eyes) when combined with violations of shared parenting responsibilities equated to a substantial change in circumstances.
If you’re looking to modify a child support or time-sharing order, The Law Offices of Lawrence S. Katz, P.A. can help. We have extensive experience handling post-judgment modifications in Florida. Call us at 305-670-8656 or contact us online to arrange a consultation at our Miami office.