What to do When Your Former Spouse Files a Petition to Modify Child Support
When served with a petition to modify an existing child support order, many parents panic, fearing that they will no longer receive the assistance that they require to provide for their child’s needs. It’s important to remember, however, that just because a person requests a modification does not mean that it will be granted, as there are a number of statutory requirements that a petitioner must meet before this type of change will be approved. An experienced legal representative can help ensure that a petitioning party meets these requirements and that the other parent’s rights are also protected, so if you recently received notice that a former spouse is attempting to modify an existing child support order, you should consider consulting with a knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale child support modifications lawyer who can advise you.
Reviewing the Grounds for Modification
While it is possible to modify a child support award, doing so can be difficult, as it requires that the petitioner prove that he or she has undergone a substantial change in circumstances. Co-parents can often get a good idea of whether a modification request is likely to be granted by reviewing the petitioner’s claims. For instance, courts usually reject any attempts to modify child support unless the petitioner can prove that:
- He or she has experienced a loss of income;
- The child’s expenses have undergone a significant change;
- There has been a change in the custody or visitation schedule; or
- He or she was recently diagnosed with a significant medical condition.
In fact, courts aren’t even willing to presume that the substantial change in circumstances burden has been met after a job loss, unless the child support amount (if modified) would increase or decrease an obligation by 15 percent. Furthermore, courts are generally reluctant to modify child support even if the petitioner has experienced a reduction in income, if the decrease was the result of a voluntary action. If, for example, a co-parent voluntarily accepted a position with a lower salary or engaged in conduct that resulted in his or her dismissal, the court will usually refuse to modify the award.
How to Respond to a Request for Modification
Parents who are on good terms are often able to weather these requests for a modification with relative ease. If, however, a co-parent believes that the petitioner’s attempt to reduce child support payments is not being made in good faith, or that the petitioner has failed to provide the court with the truth, he or she should be ready to present that evidence to the court by submitting a response to the petition or by filing a counter petition. The court will then take this information into account before issuing a ruling.
Review Your Legal Options Today
Speaking to an experienced child support modifications lawyer at our office is free. Call us at 954-945-7591 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale child support modification attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. today.