Times are tough and our unemployment rate is rapidly growing due to COVID-19. What can you do if you are no longer employed or your earnings have significantly decreased but you are obligated to pay support you can no longer afford? You can seek a modification of your support obligation by filing a Supplemental Petition to Modify Support.
In Florida, when you ask for a modification of child support and / or alimony, you must prove that after the original order was issued, a substantial material change of circumstances occurred which was not contemplated at the time of the entry of the original order. Without an order modifying the original support order, your financial obligation will continue and you may not unilaterally decrease your payments or you may be held in contempt of court.
What courts consider "substantial" depends on state law and the facts of each case. However, any of the following may provide a basis for modification:
- A paying parent's illness or disability;
- A substantial increase or decrease in either parent's income; and
- A change in the child's residence, for example, if the child now resides with the paying parent.
Child support is primarily based on parental income. That is why a change in the parent’s income may provide a good reason to modify support. However, that change in income cannot be voluntary. Likewise, alimony is based upon need and ability to pay. If your ability to pay has changed significantly and your alimony is modifiable, you may seek a decrease.
In conclusion, if your income has changed we encourage you to consider a modification of your support order. If COVID-19 has affected your income and you must file a Petition with the court, our lawyers can help you seek the modification you need today.