During a divorce settlement between parents, establishing a fair and workable support agreement is essential for ensuring the financial and emotional stability of both mutual children and each former spouse. 

However, while a support arrangement may work well at first, life can change fast. That is especially true when one or both spouses experiences a major economic change, or when a child has specialized care, educational or medical needs. In Florida, either parent may request a child support modification when the original court order no longer reflects financial facts. 

1. When can a parent request support modification?

Under Florida law, separated parents may petition for support modification if there has been a substantial change in either partner’s income or necessary childcare expenses. State statutes define a substantial change as one that would alter the original support arrangement by at least 15% or by $50 per month, whichever is greater. 

2. What are common reasons for modifying child support?

Parents who care for children separately may seek modification to a support agreement if either spouse experiences either a significant increase or decrease in gross income, whether due to a raise, job loss, inheritance or other factors. 

Additionally, a parent may request a support adjustment if there has been a substantial change in expenses related to necessary childcare services, health insurance, medical care, or special educational needs. 

3. Do parents need to go to court to change a support agreement?

When separated spouses are on relatively good terms, they may try to make informal arrangements to alter support payments. However, any change to child support requires court approval to be enforceable under the law. While parents can certainly work out a new agreement, the court may hold non-paying individuals in contempt if they do so without making a legal request.