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How to Deal With Child Support Payments When You Lose Your Job

In Florida, as in other states, child support payments are based in large part on the incomes of the child’s parents and the needs of the child or children. But what happens if your salary changes or you lose your job? Child support payments will not be automatically adjusted if you lose your job or your salary is modified. In fact, if you want to change an existing child support order, you first have make a request and see if you qualify. In these circumstances, it is crucial that you first seek a modification with the assistance of an experienced attorney.

Florida Law

In Florida, child support payments depend upon the guideline amount (provided for in the statute) and the consideration of a variety of factors such as the needs of the child or children, age, station in life, standard of living, and the financial status and ability of each parent. In addition, child support can vary from the guideline amount whenever any children are required by court order or mediation agreement to spend a substantial amount of time with one parent.

Clearly, income plays a large part in the child support guidelines. By statute, income is determined on a monthly basis for each parent and is largely based on what is included as gross income under the statute, which encompasses, in part:

  • Salary/wages;
  • Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, etc.;
  • Business income from sources such as self-employment;
  • Any disability benefits and/or workers’ compensation benefits;
  • Any reemployment and/or unemployment compensation;
  • Pension, retirement, or annuity payments;
  • Social Security benefits;
  • Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court ordered in the marriage before the court;
  • Interest and dividends;
  • Rental income and/or property gains;
  • Income from royalties, trusts, or estates; and
  • Reimbursed expenses or in kind payments (if applicable).

Any deviations (increasing or decreasing the presumptive amount of child support) are in the court or jury’s discretion, and can include:

  • Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses;
  • Independent income of the child;
  • The payment of support for a parent which has been regularly paid and for which there is a demonstrated need;
  • Seasonal variations in incomes or expenses;
  • The age (and needs) of the child;
  • Any special needs (re: disabilities);
  • Total available assets of the obligee, obligor, and the child.
  • The impact of the Internal Revenue Service Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and dependency exemption and waiver of that exemption;
  • The specific parenting plan; and
  • Any other adjustment needed to achieve an “equitable result” (if applicable).

Modifying Child Support Payments

If you have experienced a salary deduction or even lost your job, you can ask a court to reduce, suspend, or stop child support payments. The law states that child support awards can be modified if there is a “substantial change in circumstances.” The guidelines provide the basis for proving a substantial change in circumstances upon which a modification of an existing order may be granted. However, the difference between the existing monthly obligation and the amount provided for under the guidelines must be at least 15 percent or $50, whichever amount is greater, before the court may find that the guidelines provide a substantial change in circumstances. Otherwise, a change in the child-sharing schedule (where the child is spending substantially more time with one parent) also warrants a modification.

Child Support Attorneys

Sandra Bonfiglio can assist you in ensuring you are making fair child support payments based on your salary and circumstances. We will work to obtain the correct child support amount for you; contact us today in Fort Lauderdale so that we can help you.

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