Thursday,
September 08, 2016.
posted in Child Support
Substantial, permanent, unanticipated: Recognizing the circumstances that impact child support modification

On behalf of The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A.

After all the wrangling and back-and-forth, you thought that you and your former spouse had planned for every contingency available. Of course, when you initially entered divorce proceedings with your former spouse, you had a lot of concerns on your mind: your children, your house and your possessions. Now that time has passed, you realize that there have been changes in your life that have made your original child support agreement obsolete. While the first contract that was drafted suited your circumstances in the past, new responsibilities and expenses are impacting your financial options. After all of the initial conflict, you’re concerned that your former spouse may balk at amending the guidelines set by the original child support agreement.

Is there a guide to determine if your request for adjustment is legitimate? How can you be sure that the court will grant your wishes to alter this pact? In Florida, the court will decide whether the modification request has merit if it can be shown that life changes have been substantial, permanent and unanticipated.

1. Substantial changes
These are changes that can include an increase in a former spouse’s wages, bonuses or benefits. The Florida statutes provide a specific list of factors that need to be considered when requesting an increase in child support. According to Florida law, modification can be requested for child support when the difference between the original monthly financial requirement and the requested increase is at least 15 percent or $50, whichever is the larger amount.

Tables are available online that can help you determine if an increase in your former spouse’s income would warrant a request for an increase in child support. While these charts are helpful in providing a rough estimate of monthly child support fees, it is best to meet with an experienced attorney to determine if you have calculated your former spouse’s financial obligations correctly.

2. Permanent changes
The court recognizes alteration in circumstances that that have occurred over the past year or will last for a year to be permanent changes.

3. Unanticipated changes
This term refers to an unplanned shift in earning ability or health problems, such as a job loss or an accident that results in a disability. Additionally, an increase in healthcare and childcare fees can qualify as substantial and unanticipated adjustments.

Florida courts have long recognized that both positive and negative events will impact your ability to care for your child. If you believe that your life circumstances have altered in ways that you could not have predicted when you first established the guidelines of your child support contract, your child support agreement should reflect this shift in circumstances.

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