Substantial change in circumstances is one of the three circumstances where a Florida court can modify child support under Fla. Stat. § 61.13(1)(a). Courts interpreting “substantial change in circumstances” have found that the change in circumstances must be significant, material, involuntary and permanent in nature before a court will reduce child support payments. Overby v. Overby, 698 So. 2d 811, 814 (Fla. 1997), citing Chastain v. Chastain, 73 So. 2d 66 (Fla. 1954) and Tietig v. Boggs, 602 So. 2d 1250 (Fla. 1992). These four requirements, requiring the change in circumstances be significant, material, involuntary and permanent, were developed to insure that the payor parent’s obligation to pay support is not intentionally avoided. Overby, 698 So. 2d at 814.

In Florida, a parent paying child support may be denied a reduction in support following a loss of income or net worth if the parent nevertheless maintains the ability to pay the necessary support. Id., citing Hayden v. Hayden, 662 So. 2d 713 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995). Florida Statute § 61.30(2)(b) sets forth guidelines that must be followed when establishing child support payments. The statute provides:

Income shall be imputed to an unemployed or underemployed parent when such [unemployment] or underemployment is found to be voluntary on that parent’s part, absent physical or mental incapacity or other circumstances over which the parent has no control.

Visitation is another area that may lead to a substantial change in circumstances warranting a modification of child support.  Fla. Stat. § 61.30(11)(c) deems a noncustodial parent’s failure to exercise his or her agreed upon visitation to be a “substantial change of circumstances for purposes of modifying the child support award.”  See Migliore v. Harris, 848 So. 2d 1250, 1252 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003).  Section 61.30(11)(c) also provides for retroactive modification to the date the noncustodial parent first fails to “regularly exercise court-ordered or agreed visitation.”  Id.

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Below are some recent posts on Florida divorce law:

What are Florida’s Residency Requirements for a Divorce?

Temporary Alimony in Florida (Part 1):  Maintaining a Standard of Living.

Understanding Equitable Distribution in a Florida Divorce.

When Will a Florida Court Award Rehabilitative Alimony?

How Do Florida Courts Determine a Spouse’s Ability to Pay Alimony?