When a married couple that shares a minor biological or adopted child or children chooses to divorce, the couple’s ultimate divorce settlement will almost certainly address expectations related to child support, as a Florida family law firm can explain. An order outlining payment amounts, payment schedules and other details will generally be drafted by the Tampa FL divorce attorneys involved and approved by a judge before it becomes binding. Once in effect, it will remain so until a child turns 18 years old, graduates high school or some other qualifying event occurs.
This is the most straightforward child support scenario imaginable. But not all child support situations are so clear-cut. Sometimes child support orders need to be filed by unmarried individuals and are not tied to a legal event like formal divorce proceedings. In addition, there are times when modifications are needed and/or requested because either a parent’s circumstances or a child’s needs have significantly changed since an initial order was drafted. In both instances, there are few hard and fast rules concerning when child support orders or modifications either should or must be filed.
Filing a Support Order Not Tied to a Divorce Settlement
In general, unmarried couples may either agree to a support arrangement or file a child support request as soon as they no longer function as a romantic couple. Technically, an unmarried parenting team may file for support or come to an agreement even if they live together as a romantic couple, but most individuals in this situation opt to work out the financial needs of their intact families without the aid of the court.
There is generally no expiration date for filing for child support of minor children. Although it is advantageous to file as soon as one is no longer romantically linked to a child’s other parent, there is no time limit for requesting child support.
Filing a Child Support Modification Request
When a parent or child is affected by a relatively extreme change in circumstance, a child support modification request may be filed by either parent. Two of the most common reasons why modifications are sought involve a parent experiencing a dramatic change in income or a child suddenly requiring significantly more care due to serious illness or injury. There is no specific deadline by which modification requests must be filed.
It is helpful to speak with an attorney at a Florida family law firm about the timing of such requests as they are more likely to be approved if certain conditions are met. For example, if a parent is concerned about losing his or her job, it is generally unwise to file a modification request before the job loss has occurred. Otherwise, at the time of the request, the parent remains capable of either meeting his or her payment obligations or providing for the affected child without an increased amount of support from the child’s other parent.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you have questions about paying or receiving child support, please do not hesitate to speak with an experienced family law attorney from a Florida family law firm. Lawyers who specialize in family legal issues will be able to advise you of your options based on your unique circumstances. Child support is a serious business and delinquent payment may be treated harshly by the court. As a result, it is important for you to speak with an attorney from Florida family law firm of The Mckinney Law Group if you are concerned about missed payments, inability to pay or trouble receiving the support your child is entitled to.