How changes in employment impact child support
Recent changes to the Florida economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in numerous layoffs, furloughs and business closures. The ripple effect has left countless families feeling defeated as a loss of income due to unemployment has altered their ability to pay child support. In turn, many individuals are seeking the help of a family law attorney to assist them with modifying their current child support payments.
Changes in one party’s employment status will likely have an effect on both parents. One parent may experience some form of economic hardship as a result of the other parents’ sudden inability to pay child support. At the same time, the parent who is unable to pay must deal with possibly falling out of compliance with court orders that were set based on an income they no longer have.
Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, financial stability is not the only concern. Florida schools and day care centers were closed for a period of time, leaving many questions surrounding court-ordered timesharing as parents struggle to find balance within their new normal.
Making matters even more challenging, many local child support agencies are being hindered by social distancing orders. In some areas, the courts are closed or operating on a limited basis. At the time of this posting, many child support offices, including the Florida Department of Revenue are closed to the public. Until the court system is running at full capacity, child support modification hearings may be delayed.
How much child support will I pay if I have no income?
If you find yourself in a situation where child support or timesharing arrangements are creating unforeseen challenges and you would like to modify your arrangements, you must show that there has been a substantial financial change for one or both parties. Under Florida law, to justify a modification of child support, a change must be “substantial, material, involuntary and permanent” in nature. In times of economic uncertainty there are many people who are in a position to get some temporary help, while others will have to wait and see if their situation improves before being able to prove they need a payment modification. Our child support lawyers assist clients in modification cases by working with the Florida Department of Revenue, however, in some cases we can take avenues to have matters addressed privately.
Circumstances which can justify a modification in child support include:
- Change of income due to job loss, a new job, or a promotion
- Changes in the cost of health insurance
- Changes in the cost of child care
Changes in the timesharing schedule
To justify a modification, the change in child support must be at least $50.00 or 15% of the monthly obligation. While there are no limits on the number of times child support can be modified, there are legal standards which dictate whether you qualify for a modification.
What do I need to do to apply for child support?
If you were not previously receiving child support but recent employment changes have left you in a position where you need the extra income to care for your child, you can start the application process at any time. The support should cover the child’s basic needs, medical care, childcare, educational expenses, transportation, and extracurricular activities. You can begin the process by filling out an application through the Florida Department of Revenue. Once your case is open you will receive a letter in the mail. You can check the status of your child support claim anytime online.
Going through the child support process can be emotionally difficult for both the parent and child. When two parents don’t get along, it can be easy to forget that the purpose of child support is to make sure children’s best interests are taken care of. Even though the circumstances can be stressful, it’s often a good idea to get legal help from a qualified child support attorney who will make sure your rights are protected. If you don’t qualify for Department of Revenue assistance, or if you would like the help of a private attorney to address any issues you may have, our family law attorneys are here to support you.
How has the recent pandemic impacted the timing of child support cases?
COVID-19 has had a critical impact on the timing of addressing child support issues. The uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and recent downturn in the economy will likely cause many separated spouses, whose health or earnings are impacted, to postpone negotiations concerning child support. Oftentimes, child support is a long-term source of critical funding, necessary to help raise the children, and a long-term financial commitment. While you don’t always choose the timing of these sensitive matters, many spouses would be reluctant to make long-term decisions about child support if uncertainty exists in regards to their financial status, health conditions, or both. The current circumstances should be taken into consideration as you prepare to move forward with your case.
Should you get legal help with child support modifications?
Since the outcome of your child support case will impact your financial situation for years to come, it’s in your best interest to have an experienced child support attorney guiding you through the process. Whether you’re going through a divorce, pursuing enforcement of a previous child support order, or trying to get your payments reduced, this is a time where you will need someone on your side to advocate for your rights.
A Syprett Meshad family law attorney with experience in handling a variety of child support matters will evaluate your case, go over what you can expect every step along the way, and explain all your options. Your attorney will represent you start to finish, and will protect your legal rights and personal interests throughout the process – all with your end goal in mind.
If recent economic, employment, or health changes have made it difficult to pay child support, or if you’re the custodial parent and your financial status has changed despite receiving consistent payments, contact a child support attorney at Syprett Meshad today. We have the experience and knowledge to understand how Florida law impacts the way courts rule on child support disputes, and we can help ensure your rights are protected during these complicated negotiations. We are serving clients throughout the greater Sarasota, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, North Port, Venice areas, and throughout the state of Florida.
Throughout this article we reference the term “timesharing.” While many people are familiar with the term “child custody,” it is no longer used in Florida law. In many cases, timesharing, rights, and responsibilities associated with raising children will be shared by both parents unless the court finds that sharing this responsibility (joint custody) would be detrimental to the child/children.