Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Child Support

When a party wants to modify a Florida child support award, does it matter if the original support amount was ordered versus agreed-to by the parties? If a party is seeking a decrease in Florida child support, then yes, the fact that the parties agreed to an amount matters. The case Medalie v. Sparks, 4D18-1887 (Fla. 4th DCA July 10, 2019) explains this.

This case does not provide much factual background, but the father appealed the trial court’s denial of his petition for downward modification of child support. In reviewing the trial court’s decision for an abuse of discretion, the appellate court found no abuse, holding “when the original child support amount is based on an agreement by the parties, . . . there is a heavier burden on the party seeking a downward modification.” This means since the parties agreed to the child support amount (likely with the father paying more than the Florida child support guidelines indicated), he had a heavier burden of proof than if the court had ordered him to pay a certain support amount.

The appellate court did find error in awarding attorneys’ fees to the mother for an error in the mother’s attorney’s billing. The mother conceded on appeal that her attorneys’ fee bill inadvertently included $70.00 worth of work for another client of the mother’s attorney. Therefore, the case was remanded with instruction to discount $70.00 from the bill owed to the mother’s attorney by the father.

If you are considering modifying your Florida child support to either receive more support or to lower your monthly payments, consult with a Miami child support lawyer to determine your best options. A consultation may be your first step on a path to understanding the dynamics of your case.