What are the requirements to change the amount of child support?


Attorney Michelle Barry tells us the requirements to change the amount of child support.


Attorney Tom Olsen: Welcome back everybody. My name is Tom Olsen and name of the show is Olsen on Law every Saturday 11:00 AM right here on News 965. I'd like to introduce you to attorney Michelle Barry. She specializes in family law including divorce, alimony, child support, and time sharing. Hey, Michelle, thanks for being on the show today.

Attorney Michelle Barry: Thanks for having me, Tom.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Hey, Michelle, I got an email a couple of weeks ago from a lady who got divorced four years ago. Her circumstances have changed and she wants to know what she needs to do to change the amount of child support that's being paid to her. What would be your recommendation to her?

Attorney Michelle Barry: The funny thing about child support is there's actually four moving parts to it. The mother's income, the father's income, what we call husband and wife and also how many times the child is overnight at mom's versus how many times the child is overnight at dad's. If any of those four moving parts have changed then it results in what would be a $50 a month decrease or increase in child support. The child support would need to be recalculated. It would take quite a significant amount of overnights to change it because just a few overnights wouldn't make much of a difference in the bottom line.

That is why the courts require that there has to be at least a $50 a month difference in the actual child support amount resulting from the circumstantial change.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Hey, Michelle, I know that the Florida statutes have a formula for how much child support is paid based on the income of the mother and the father. Does the four statutes now lay out how many days they are with mom or with dad as far as changing the amount of the initial number that gets spit out?

Attorney Michelle Barry: It definitely can be influenced by, for instance, how often a child is with mom. In other words, if the time-sharing is significantly higher for one parent where the other parent only gets, for instance, 20% of the time then there would be a statutory break in the child support amount but it wouldn't be a whole lot. Now if it were equal time sharing then there would be a lessening of the child support amount. Because in a perfect world if both parents were making the same exact amount of money and the child was at the parent's house the equal amount of time then you would have basically no child support being paid.

The children's fortune rise and fall with those of the parent's. If, for instance, one of the parents won the lottery after the divorce that would be a happy occasion to go back and recompute child support.

Attorney Tom Olsen: What I'm trying to ask you is that if the child is with a mom or dad 50%, 40%, 30% of the time, how is the court determining how to adjust the amount of child support that's being paid? Is that laid out in the statutory formula or is that just purely subjected by the court?

Attorney Michelle Barry: We'd like to think it's subjected by the court but actually there is a statutory formula. It used to be that there had to be a 40% threshold that the paying parent would have to meet in order to get a break on the amount of child support. The logic behind that is simply that if the child is spending that much time with the paying parent then the paying parent should get a break on the amount that is being paid. Now that step off has been reduced to 20% because it is computed that if you're going to have your child at least 20% of the time then you're going to have a separate room for that child.

They're going to have basically a replication of what they have at the other parent's house. That would make it a bit easier on the paying parent to be able to say, "Okay, now I can pay a little less child support because I do have the child 20% of the time" and that formula is considered within the statutory computation.

Attorney Tom Olsen: All right. If dad is paying child support once the days with dad rise to 20% or more of days during a year his child support begins to decrease?

Attorney Michelle Barry: Exactly. It's configured to allow for the fact that you've got expenses of your own when you have the child with you. The only time child support is really drastically higher is if it is mom has the child or one of the parents has the child for at least 80% of the time if not more then the other person is going to be paying full child support per statute.

Attorney Tom Olsen: All right Michelle, tell the listeners how they can reach you here in Orlando.

Attorney Michelle Barry: You can reach me at my Longwood office in Seminole County at 407-622-4529 is my phone number. Best way to find me is on my website at www.mbarrylaw.com and my email address is michelle@mbarrylaw.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Attorney Tom Olsen: All right Michelle thank you so much. That's attorney Michelle Barry she's a family law, divorce attorney right here in Orlando and again you can reach her at her office during the week at 407-622-4529. Hey folks, my name is Tom Olsen and the name of the show is Olsen on Law every Saturday at 11. By the way, Olsen on Law now 32 years in Orlando marketplace and many more years to go. We appreciate you listening. We're going to take a break. We'll be back in just a few minutes.