Articles Posted in Child support modification

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Situations change and individuals can go through unexpected periods of financial downturn. Losing your job, having a medical emergency in your household, and many other similar events can make it difficult to cover your bills. In such times, you may also struggle to make your court-ordered child support payments.

The court orders a certain amount of child support based on your situation at the time of the ruling, and the courts do not attempt to anticipate your future financial circumstances. Therefore, if you lose income or your other expenses increase, it is understandable that paying child support may become challenging or even impossible in the future. Unfortunately, failing to pay child support can have serious consequences in Florida, but you have legal options to try to make your child support more manageable to avoid these consequences.

Possible Actions Against You

The Florida Department of Revenue has a Child Support Enforcement team that can take various actions if you are not making your payments on time. This department can take the following actions against you:

  • Wage or bank account garnishments
  • Suspension of your driver’s license
  • Suspension of a professional or business license
  • Interception of your tax refund
  • Interception of any lottery winnings over $600
  • Withholding of a certain amount from worker’s compensation or unemployment benefits
  • Liens on your personal property
  • Reporting the late payments to your credit bureau
  • Disallowing you from receiving a passport
  • Requesting that the civil court enforces the order and hold you in contempt if you do not comply
  • Seeking assistance from the Office of the Inspector General to impose fines and/or jail time

Child Support Modifications

Fortunately, you have other options when you cannot pay your child support than simply facing the above consequences. If you have had a substantial change in circumstances, Florida law allows you to petition to court to modify the amount of support ordered in light of the change. This will require you and the other parent to go back into court, however, and the other parent will have the opportunity to argue that the support should not be lowered. Additionally, you should note that, if you have quit your job or are underemployed by your own choice, the court will likely not approve a modification. However, if your new circumstances are beyond your control, you will likely be eligible for a modification so that you can resume making payments.

Call an Experienced Boca Raton Child Support Attorney to Discuss Your Situation

If you realize that you cannot afford to pay your full child support payments, you should never simply stop paying and ignore the situation, as that can result in serious, often irreversible consequences. Instead, your first call should be to a qualified family lawyer who can help you explore your options for making your payments more manageable. Attorney Alan R. Burton in Boca Raton understands Florida laws and how to best apply them to your situation to protect your best interests. Please call our office for assistance at 954-229-1660 to learn how we can assist you.

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A modification of child support, or alimony as well, is based upon an unforseen, involuntary, permanent and substantial change in circumstances. Florida statute 61.14 provides the statutory basis for a modification of child support and alimony.

If the court, after entertaining a petition for modification of support, either upward or downward, finds that there was a change in circumstances, or the financial position of either party has changed, the court can enter an order, retroactive to the date of filing the petition, granting the modification.

Often times it takes a considerable amount of time to have a matter scheduled for hearing before the court. The length of time varies between the particular judge and the courthouse in which the petition is pending.
This is the rational behind the rule that petitions , if granted, are retroactive back to the date of filing. There is one important exception to this rule. If a parent seeks an upward modification of child support when the obligor is not exercising the agreed upon time sharing, the modification of that particular support obligation is retroactive to the date when the obligor first stopped adhering to the agreed upon time sharing schedule.

Terrell Owens, a well known player in the NFL
, was recently seeking a reduction of his child support obligations. His claim was based upon his current state of financial affairs. His efforts to reduce his support obligations would most likely have been successful, but for the fact that he most recently signed a new contract with the Seattle Seahawks for a reported sum of $1,000,000.00.

The case of Terrell Owens illustrates the point well. In order to obtain financial relief, there must be a certain degree of permanency in the change of one’s financial picture, not merely a temporary one.

If you have circumstances that you believe would warrant either an increase or decrease in your support obligations, you can call the law office of Alan R. Burton anytime. With over thirty years of experience in family law matters, Mr. Burton is well qualified to assist you with your questions. He maintains offices in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Feel free to call him today. He will be available to discuss your case.