People change jobs, hours are cut, and as we have seen in the news recently sometimes pay is delayed altogether. When funds are tight it is normal to assess your finances, including your child support obligation. However, a change in income does not necessary mean your child support will change. Start by assessing your child support obligation. The Child Support Guidelines Worksheet can be found here. This worksheet allows you to enter your income and determine what amount you must pay.
If you determine the amount should be lower you may want to file a Supplemental Petition to Modify Child Support. How can you tell if your change in circumstances warrants a modification? Florida Courts require the change causing your reduced income to be, “significant, material, permanent, and involuntary.” If you meet this criteria you can file the petition with the court. You must then pay a filing fee to file the petition, unless you qualify for indigent status. Additionally, you must have the other party served with a copy of this petition via a process server.
The burden will be on you to show that the change meets the Courts’ criteria. If the other party does not agree with the change you are requesting or believes you do not meet the criteria they may file an answer in opposition or a counter-petition. If the other party opposes your petition discovery may be conducted, a mediation will be required, and eventually a final hearing will be set. At the final hearing a judge or magistrate will hear each side and allow the parties to offer relevant evidence.
You should consult an attorney prior to filing a petition for modification. If you are currently fighting a petition to modify or dealing with someone fighting your petition you should also consult an attorney. Many people think they have a strong case, which may be true, but they do not know how to use the legal standards to argue it.