Daniel J. Wright
How to Modify a Child Support Order
When parents do not live together, there are different options for custody. In many cases, when the child is with one parent more than the other, the court will issue a child support order where the other parent will pay the “custodial” parent a set amount per week or per month.
The purpose of child support in Tampa, FL is to help provide for the child’s needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. The amount of child support is usually based on some formula that involves the income of both parents. Each state has its own rules of calculating how much the parent will pay.
Some states will use a percentage of income model, in which the payment amount is based on a percentage of the paying parent’s income and how many children the parent is paying support for using a state table. The receiving parent’s income is not considered at all in this model.
Other states use the income shares model. With this type of calculation, both parents income is used and the amount of child support is determined based on that amount using a state table.
Three states currently use a third model, the Melson Formula, which is a very complicated version of the income shares model.
Reviewing a Child Support Order
In most cases, child support must be paid until the child turns 18. If the child is still attending high school when they turn 18, most orders will extend the obligation until the child graduates. In some cases, child support may be ordered until the child graduates college should they choose to attend.
However, it is unrealistic to think that a child support order should stay at the same amount for the entire time it is in force. In most states, a child support order can be reviewed every three years in order to determine the amount still meets the needs of the child and does not but an unfair burden on the parents. Either parent has the right to request a change in the amount of child support. The court will review the amount and determine if it a change is warranted, either increasing the payment or decreasing the payment, based on the circumstances presented to the court.
There are cases where circumstances arise and the parent cannot wait the required three years for the review and needs the child support amended right away. This often happens if the paying parent is struggling financially and no longer makes the same amount of money they were making when the original order was issued. They may even be facing bankruptcy.
In these situations, a petition to modify will need to be filed with the court to request the change. If the other parent agrees to the change, it is likely the court will approve the request.
If the other parent does not agree to the change, then there will be hearing where both sides will present their case and a judge will decide whether or not to grant the modification. No matter what side of the argument you are on, it is best to retain a child support attorney to represent you at for the hearing and argue your case for you.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at The McKinney Law Group for their insight into child support law.