Most court orders governing contracts like child support, custody, and alimony don't stay good forever. As life changes for both parties involved in the arrangement, you may realize your current child support order isn't an accurate reflection of either party's current circumstances.
Filing a modification case can help you secure a more equitable support arrangement, but it can be difficult to know where to start. Today, we're giving you a step-by-step rundown of how you can change your child support arrangement.
What Is a Modification Case?
An order modification case enables an individual to modify the terms of a legally binding court order. Modification cases are typically used to modify child support, child custody, and alimony orders.
You can only modify a court order if you prove one or both parties involved in the order have experienced a "substantial and meaningful" change of circumstances that renders the current court order inequitable or makes it impossible for one party to fulfill legal obligations stated in an order (such as paying a certain amount of child support or alimony per month).
Common reasons to file a modification case include:
- The party responsible for paying child or spousal support experiences a loss in income, making it impossible for them to fulfill their obligation. If the value of the order needs to change by 15% to make it more equitable, an individual can file a modification case citing loss of income;
- The party receiving support experiences an increase in income, reducing their need for support;
- The party receiving support gets married to a new partner, reducing their need for support;
- The party responsible for paying child support starts paying for other expenses (like medical care or health insurance), and thus should receive a reduction;
- The court issues an additional child support order that renders the current order invalid.
If these circumstances apply to you, you should be able to file a modification case to change the terms of your court order and make it more reflective of your current circumstances.
How Do I File a Modification Case?
Fortunately, the process of filing a modification case in Florida is relatively simple. To get a comprehensive rundown, read this document provided by Florida courts. In the meantime, here's a brief step-by-step overview:
- File a modification petition with the court. You must fill out the petition, which includes information about why the current court order needs to be changed, and evidence supporting your case.
- Notify the other party of your intent to file an order modification petition. If the other party agrees to modify the court order, you can file an uncontested modification petition together. Courts typically approve uncontested petitions quickly, since both parties agree changing the terms of the current order is in their best interests.
- If the other party disagrees with filing the order, you'll need to file a contested modification petition. The court will set hearing dates and may require you to attend mediation with the other party to try and negotiate terms for a more equitable order. Once you and the other party present your cases to the court, the judge will decide whether to modify your court order.
- If you serve the other party notice of your intent to modify the court order and they don't file a response with the court within 20 days, you can file a default modification petition, enabling you to modify the court order ex parte (without the other party).
At Conti Moore Law, PLLC, we work with clients to gather evidence that supports their modification petitions and usher them through the process of modifying inequitable court orders.
To schedule a consultation with our team and get the legal counsel you deserve, contact us online or via phone at (407) 315-2006.