1. Modification of Child Support
The first type of modification case is a child support modification. Child support modifications should be sought when there is a "substantial change in circumstances" which would either increase or decrease the amount of child support to be paid or received by a party. Some events that may constitute a substantial change in circumstances are: (1) the loss of a job; (2) a substantial decrease in income; (3) a substantial increase in income; (4) a substantial change in daycare/aftercare expenses for the child at issue; (5) a substantial change in the health insurance expenses for the child at issue; (6) a child graduating from high school or turning 18 years old.
It is extremely important to note that you can only receive credit for over/under payments retroactive to the date of filing. If you have experienced any of the substantial changes above, you need to file immediately so that proper credit can be obtained from the Court for any surplus payments. We recommend that you contact us the very day that the change occurs and oftentimes we can have your case filed within 24 hours to maximize your potential credit.
2. Modification of Alimony
Modification of alimony is very similar to child support in that the changes that often lead to a change in child support payments often lead to a substantial change which would constitute grounds to modify an amount of alimony. A few differences exist between the two, however. First, some alimony is non-modifiable. If you signed a settlement agreement agreeing to non-modifiable alimony, you will not be able to change your payments even if a substantial change occurs. Second, the term of alimony is usually non-modifiable. This means that you may be obligated to pay permanent alimony forever, but the Court has the ability to modify the amount.
3. Modification of Timesharing
Modifying timesharing (sometimes referred to as custody and/or visitation) is always an option when children are involved. Two parties cannot agree to never modify time sharing. In order to modify time sharing, you need to allege and ultimately prove a substantial change in circumstances. Once you meet your burden of showing a substantial change in circumstances, you also have to demonstrate to the Court that the requested change is in the best interest of the child according to Florida Statute 61.13. Please see our Child Custody practice page for more information about this subject.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Modification
1. Do I still have to pay the current amount of alimony and/or child support while my modification is pending?
Yes. You should continue to pay what your previous order provided if you are able. If you truly can not pay the amount ordered, you need to pay something. Nothing is worse than going into Court seeking a modification and having to admit to the Court that you didn't pay anything towards your obligations. If you overpay during the modification process, you will receive a credit for overpayment retroactive to the date you filed your modification.
2. How easy is it to modify timesharing?
The party seeking to modify timesharing carries the burden of alleging and ultimately proving that there has been a substantial change in circumstances warranting a modification. There are numerous cases in Florida which provide guidance as to what constitutes a substantial change and what does not. It is a case by case determination, so the best way to decide whether to move forward with a modification case is to speak to one of our attorneys first before filing.