What Does it Take to Modify Child Support or Alimony in Florida?

One of the only constants in life is change. In fact, according to the Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, change is life’s only constant. Many individuals who have been divorced—and especially those with children—know what life’s changes can do to child support and alimony orders in the divorce decree. Sometimes, a significant change can make it impossible to satisfy the requirements in a court order. In that case, it might be necessary to request a modification

Substantial Change in Circumstances

Generally, the petitioner for a modification must show the court that he or she has experienced a substantial change in circumstances to be successful. What does this mean? In Florida, this means the change in circumstances that is in question must be significant, material, involuntary, and indefinite. The change must have also been unforeseeable.

In other words, the court will not approve a petitioner’s request to modify some element of the divorce decree—child support, alimony, or time-sharing—over the objections of the petitioner’s ex-spouse without a good reason to do so. When one requests a modification to child support or time-sharing, the petitioner must also show that the modification would be in the best interests of the child.

Examples of a Substantial Change in Circumstances

A few events stick out as common examples. An unexpected, serious, and chronic illness contracted by the paying ex-spouse (the spouse who pays alimony or child support) might significantly alter the ability of that person to pay. A job loss may or may not qualify as a substantial change in circumstances.

Along those same lines, many people whose jobs were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic were surprised when they petitioned for modifications and did not receive them. At the beginning of the pandemic, most people were under the impression that layoffs would only last a few weeks. As time went on, of course, COVID-19 morphed into something of a mainstay. Those who were laid off, fired, or had their hours significantly reduced because of COVID-19 and are still affected might be able to show a substantial change in circumstances. 

If Both Individuals Agree…

A petitioner does not need to jump through as many hoops if his or her ex-spouse agrees to the modification. In that case, both parties need to sign a few forms and send the agreement to a judge for approval. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an attorney look over your proposed modification. 

Family Law Solutions from Heather Bryan Law, P.A.Even if you and your ex-spouse have a great co-parenting relationship and generally agree on related matters, modifying a child support or alimony order means you’re still modifying a court order. Our firm can help you make sure your modification meets all the legal requirements and, just as importantly, works for you and your kids. Contact our team today to get your family law issue resolved.

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Heather Bryan Law, P.A.

Our firm has experience defending Floridians against all sorts of criminal charges. Additionally, we are well-equipped to handle emotionally charged family law matters and devastating personal injury cases.

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