In today’s economy, nothing seems certain. One day you may have a stable job providing a steady income. The next thing you know, your job becomes one of the many losses that millions of Americans are facing every day. When faced with this adversity, your spousal or child support payments may become more than your income is able to handle. Other life changes may necessitate a modification of divorce or custody orders. Contact our Fort Lauderdale child, spousal, divorce or custody modifications attorneys today.
It’s important to note that you are not allowed to stop making support payments without the permission of the court. Reducing or stopping payments on your support obligation can have significant consequences. This includes a contempt of court determination, which may result in jail time. For this reason, it’s important for you to secure the services of a Fort Lauderdale modification attorney to properly file for a modification of your support order by the court.
If you have found yourself in a position where you are unable to fulfill the financial obligations you have to your child or to your ex-spouse, we can help. Modifications to existing child support and alimony orders are available when there has been a significant change of circumstances in the lives of either party. Alimony and child support modifications have become increasingly common as a result of the current economic downturn.Child Support Modification
The court can modify your child support obligation if a substantial change in circumstances exists. Some examples of changed circumstances include:
- More overnights with the child;
- Increase in income for the parent receiving support;
- Decrease in income for the parent paying support;
- Three years have passed since the most recent order;
- The child develops severe health problems; and
- The child develops severe learning disabilities.
The court determines whether a substantial change of circumstances occurred by examining a number of factors. The keyword is substantial. A small reduction in pay may not be significant enough to reach this threshold. Generally, if a change in income occurred, the new child support amount must differ by $50.00 or 15 percent for the court to approve a modification.Spousal Support Modification
The court can also modify a spousal support order if a substantial change of circumstances is proven. It’s important to note that a modification is only possible if an alimony order was issued at the time of divorce. If there was no alimony ordered, then there is nothing to modify. Possible reasons for a modification of child support include:
- Substantial inheritance;
- Substantial change in income;
- Lottery winnings;
- Remarriage of payee; or
- Determination of fraud perpetrated by the payee or payor.
Factors that generally do not meet the substantial change of circumstances threshold include:
- Voluntary underemployment;
- Small improvements in the payee’s financial situation; or
- New expenses for the payee resulting from a subsequent marriage.
Unless stated otherwise, most divorce agreements are subject to modification and adjustment. It is often necessary to modify the terms of an agreement as the years pass, and as people and circumstances evolve. Some circumstances that necessitate a modification in divorce or custody orders, include:
- Significant increases or decreases to income;
- The children start spending more overnights with the noncustodial parent;
- The custodial parent is seeking to relocate out of the area;
- Allegations of child abuse or neglect;
- Significant behavior changes by the child; and
- Criminal behavior by the parent.
As stated earlier, you cannot unilaterally modify an order of the court. You must first obtain permission from the court. This is accomplished by first filing a petition in the jurisdiction where your order originated. You must serve the petition on the other parent or ex-spouse, and give the party time to file an answer. If the request is uncontested, the court may accept a consent agreement signed by both parties for a modification in spousal support or a divorce order. Modifications to child support generally require at least one appearance before the court. If the modification request is contested, then both parties must go through the trial process, including discovery, mediation and trial appearances. This is why the assistance of an attorney is vital to your case.
To learn if your situation qualifies you for a modification, contact us to speak with one of our professional Fort Lauderdale modification attorneys. Our Florida and Fort Lauderdale family law modification attorneys are here to help you achieve the results you need.Contact Our Fort Lauderdale Family Law Modification Attorneys
We have more than 30 years of experience helping clients modify their existing child support, alimony and time sharing agreements. Contact us online, or call us at (954) 524-0505, or (561) 736-7117 to schedule a free initial consultation. We accept all major credit cards.