The Coronavirus Pandemic has left countless Floridians unemployed, furloughed, or facing a decrease in income. What happens if you are incapable of meeting your court-ordered child support obligation? What options are available to help you get through these difficult times?
In Florida, you have two options: You can either file a Petition to Modify Child Support or you can file a Motion for Temporary Relief.
When filing a Petition to Modify Child Support you are asking the court to modify the amount of your child support payment. A child support order can be modified at any time upon a showing of substantial, permanent, unanticipated change in circumstances.
A substantial change in circumstances includes but is not limited to the loss of a job or a substantial decrease in income. Being laid off or a decrease in income as a result of the Coronavirus crisis is an example of a substantial change in circumstances. A family judge will not consider and does not have the ability to modify any support obligation that existed before the filing date of your Petition to Modify Child Support. It is therefore very important to file for a modification of your child support obligation as soon as you were either let go from your job or your income decreased. The family law judge is able to modify your child support obligation back to the date that you filed your Petition.
If you have been furloughed and have not been permanently laid off from your job, you may still ask the courts for help. Another option available is putting a temporary hold on your child support obligation. This is done by filing a Motion for Temporary Relief. Florida Courts have used their discretion to grant a temporary suspension of child support where the payor’s reduction in income was not shown to be permanent. This is especially true in cases where the payor has been involuntarily terminated from his job and thereafter has engaged in an exhaustive job search, depleted his assets, and his unemployment benefits.
If you are experiencing the inability to pay your court ordered child support as a result of the widespread effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, the family court will provide relief during these difficult times. If you find yourself on either side of this situation, now is the time to act.
Miami-Dade Family Judges are currently holding hearings for non-emergency court proceedings either by phone conference or by Zoom! If you currently have a family law case pending in Miami-Dade County, or wish to file a new case, your case is assigned to one judge. Each judge has their own website. On that website, you will find detailed instructions on how your judge will be conducting hearings, how to submit documents, and also how to contact the judge’s assistant for guidance.
Patricia Elizee is the managing partner of Elizee Law Firm, P.A. The Firm focuses on immigration and family law cases. Attorney Elizee can be reached at ph.: 305-371-8846. The Office is located at 1110 Brickell Avenue, Suite 315, Miami, Florida 33131.