For families in Florida who rely on child support payments for ongoing sustenance, parental disability can have a major impact on their financial health. Due to disability, a non-custodial parent may no longer be able to fulfill their child support obligations as provided for in the initial order, as their own income may substantially decline. While disability does not automatically change or lower the child support award, the practical reality is that an acquired disability can substantially affect the amount of income available.

Disability insurance payments, often provided by an employer, can help a disabled parent continue to meet their child support obligations. However, the disabled parent can still seek a modification of their child support order, as support orders are based on a formula that calculates payments based on parental income. While disability insurance can help to sustain a person’s life, these insurance payments are often substantially lower than the parent’s prior income from their job. With a child support modification, the custodial parent would continue to receive child support, but the amount would reflect the non-custodial parent’s current financial circumstances.

If the disability is temporary, the family court may order a temporary modification of support payments that would last for the expected duration of the disability. If the disability continues past that time, the paying parent can return to family court to request a continued or indefinite modification. However, if the disability is considered permanent, the modified support order will generally also be permanent and based on the disabled parent’s current income.

Disability can bring many new and complex challenges to a person’s life, including their child support obligations. Disabled parents whose circumstances have changed since their support order was initially issued may be able to work with a family law attorney to seek a modification of their support order based on the legitimate decrease in their income.