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Four Ways To Modify Child Support Obligations In Port St. Lucie


Children grow up fast and families change frequently. Therefore, the initial child support determination was never meant to be permanent. In fact, these changes occur so often that most Port St. Lucie child support orders need to be modified at least once every three or four years.

It’s always important to partner with an attorney quickly in these situations. Informal “side agreements” are completely unenforceable, and the state considers payments delinquent if they are not made in strict accordance with the terms of the decree. Furthermore, if a party is entitled to more support, that money is usually sorely needed. Finally, if a party is entitled to a reduction, these orders are usually not retroactive. So, the longer you wait, the more you needlessly spend.

Age-Related Modifications

Once a child turns 18 and graduates high school, the child no longer counts for support purposes, at least in most cases. There are exceptions if the child has a physical or mental disability. In these situations, the residential parent usually has the burden of proof to show that the child cannot live independently. But for the most part, this basis for modification is quite straightforward. The reduction is usually not automatic. Instead, the order must be legally revised.

Children who marry, die, join the armed forces, or are emancipated prior to their 18th birthdays also do not count for most child support purposes.

Income-Based Modifications

Most people change jobs every few years. Most of these changes also mean either more money or less money. So, income-based modifications are usually the most common ones in Port St. Lucie.

If the income change is more than 15 percent, or the dollar value is more (or less) than $50, the law presumes that there is a substantial change in circumstances. A Florida judge may reduce or raise an obligation based on less change, but these cases are difficult to win.

The change must be permanent and unanticipated. A temporary overtime assignment cannot justify an increase, and a known-about job relocation cannot justify a decrease. In decrease cases, the job change must have occurred in good faith. Obligors cannot quit high-paying jobs to avoid paying support.

Parenting Time-Based Changes

The initial child support calculation is based on a certain number of overnights for each parent. If the proportion changes significantly, that change could be a material and substantial change according to the child support law. Florida judges have a great deal of discretion here. But the aforementioned 15 percent rule usually applies in parenting time cases as well, at least informally.

Expense-Based Changes

Judges also base initial child support obligations on certain expense calculations which are related to the children. The most common ones are:

  • Health insurance premiums,
  • Daycare costs, and
  • Educational expenses (g. private school tuition).

All these things are subject to change. For example, kids get bigger and outgrow daycare, at least from a biological standpoint. Once that happens, the child support obligation may need to be revisited.

Connect with Tenacious Lawyers

A former spouse may petition for a decrease or increase in child support at almost any time. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

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