2004 Florida Statutes
Enforcement and modification of support, maintenance, or alimony agreements or orders.
(1)(a) When the parties enter into an agreement for payments for, or instead of, support, maintenance, or alimony, whether in connection with a proceeding for dissolution or separate maintenance or with any voluntary property settlement, or when a party is required by court order to make any payments, and the circumstances or the financial ability of either party changes or the child who is a beneficiary of an agreement or court order as described herein reaches majority after the execution of the agreement or the rendition of the order, either party may apply to the circuit court of the circuit in which the parties, or either of them, resided at the date of the execution of the agreement or reside at the date of the application, or in which the agreement was executed or in which the order was rendered, for an order decreasing or increasing the amount of support, maintenance, or alimony, and the court has jurisdiction to make orders as equity requires, with due regard to the changed circumstances or the financial ability of the parties or the child, decreasing, increasing, or confirming the amount of separate support, maintenance, or alimony provided for in the agreement or order. A finding that medical insurance is reasonably available or the child support guidelines in s. 61.30 may constitute changed circumstances. Except as otherwise provided in s. 61.30(11)(c), the court may modify an order of support, maintenance, or alimony by increasing or decreasing the support, maintenance, or alimony retroactively to the date of the filing of the action or supplemental action for modification as equity requires, giving due regard to the changed circumstances or the financial ability of the parties or the child.
(b) For each support order reviewed by the department as required by s. 409.2564(12), if the amount of the child support award under the order differs by at least 10 percent but not less than $25 from the amount that would be awarded under s. 61.30, the department shall seek to have the order modified and any modification shall be made without a requirement for proof or showing of a change in circumstances.
(c) The department shall have authority to adopt rules to implement this section.
(2) When an order or agreement is modified pursuant to subsection (1), the party having an obligation to pay shall pay only the amount of support, maintenance, or alimony directed in the new order, and the agreement or earlier order is modified accordingly. No person may commence an action for modification of a support, maintenance, or alimony agreement or order except as herein provided. No court has jurisdiction to entertain any action to enforce the recovery of separate support, maintenance, or alimony other than as herein provided.
(3) This section is declaratory of existing public policy and of the laws of this state.
(4) If a party applies for a reduction of alimony or child support and the circumstances justify the reduction, the court may make the reduction of alimony or child support regardless of whether or not the party applying for it has fully paid the accrued obligations to the other party at the time of the application or at the time of the order of modification.
(5)(a) When a court of competent jurisdiction enters an order for the payment of alimony or child support or both, the court shall make a finding of the obligor's imputed or actual present ability to comply with the order. If the obligor subsequently fails to pay alimony or support and a contempt hearing is held, the original order of the court creates a presumption that the obligor has the present ability to pay the alimony or support and to purge himself or herself from the contempt. At the contempt hearing, the obligor shall have the burden of proof to show that he or she lacks the ability to purge himself or herself from the contempt. This presumption is adopted as a presumption under s. 90.302(2) to implement the public policy of this state that children shall be maintained from the resources of their parents and as provided for in s. 409.2551, and that spouses be maintained as provided for in s. 61.08 The court shall state in its order the reasons for granting or denying the contempt.
(b) In a judicial circuit with a work experience and job training pilot project, if at the time of the contempt hearing the obligor is unemployed or has no income, then the court shall order the obligor to seek employment, if the obligor is able to engage in employment, and to immediately notify the court upon obtaining employment, upon obtaining any income, or upon obtaining any ownership of any asset with a value of $500 or more. If the obligor is still unemployed 30 days after any order for support, the court may order the obligor to enroll in a work experience, job placement, and job training program for noncustodial parents as established in s. 409.2565, if the obligor is eligible for entrance into the pilot program.
(6)(a)1. When support payments are made through the local depository or through the State Disbursement Unit, any payment or installment of support which becomes due and is unpaid under any support order is delinquent; and this unpaid payment or installment, and all other costs and fees herein provided for, become, after notice to the obligor and the time for response as set forth in this subsection, a final judgment by operation of law, which has the full force, effect, and attributes of a judgment entered by a court in this state for which execution may issue. No deduction shall be made by the local depository from any payment made for costs and fees accrued in the judgment by operation of law process under paragraph (b) until the total amount of support payments due the obligee under the judgment has been paid.
2. A certified statement by the local depository evidencing a delinquency in support payments constitute evidence of the final judgment under this paragraph.
3. The judgment under this paragraph is a final judgment as to any unpaid payment or installment of support which has accrued up to the time either party files a motion with the court to alter or modify the support order, and such judgment may not be modified by the court. The court may modify such judgment as to any unpaid payment or installment of support which accrues after the date of the filing of the motion to alter or modify the support order. This subparagraph does not prohibit the court from providing relief from the judgment pursuant to Rule 1.540, Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.
(b)1. When an obligor is 15 days delinquent in making a payment or installment of support and the amount of the delinquency is greater than the periodic payment amount ordered by the court, the local depository shall serve notice on the obligor informing him or her of:
a. The delinquency and its amount.
b. An impending judgment by operation of law against him or her in the amount of the delinquency and all other amounts which thereafter become due and are unpaid, together with costs and a service charge of up to $7.50, for failure to pay the amount of the delinquency.
c. The obligor's right to contest the impending judgment and the ground upon which such contest can be made.
d. The local depository's authority to release information regarding the delinquency to one or more credit reporting agencies.
2. The local depository shall serve the notice by mailing it by first class mail to the obligor at his or her last address of record with the local depository. If the obligor has no address of record with the local depository, service shall be by publication as provided in chapter 49.
3. When service of the notice is made by mail, service is complete on the date of mailing.
(c) Within 15 days after service of the notice is complete, the obligor may file with the court that issued the support order, or with the court in the circuit where the local depository which served the notice is located, a motion to contest the impending judgment. An obligor may contest the impending judgment only on the ground of a mistake of fact regarding an error in whether a delinquency exists, in the amount of the delinquency, or in the identity of the obligor.
(d) The court shall hear the obligor's motion to contest the impending judgment within 15 days after the date of the filing of the motion. Upon the court's denial of the obligor's motion, the amount of the delinquency and all other amounts which thereafter become due, together with costs and a service charge of up to $7.50, become a final judgment by operation of law against the obligor. The depository shall charge interest at the rate established in s. 55.03 on all judgments for support.
(e) If the obligor fails to file a motion to contest the impending judgment within the time limit prescribed in paragraph (c) and fails to pay the amount of the delinquency and all other amounts which thereafter become due, together with costs and a service charge of up to $7.50, such amounts become a final judgment by operation of law against the obligor at the expiration of the time for filing a motion to contest the impending judgment.
(f)1. Upon request of any person, the local depository shall issue, upon payment of a service charge of up to $7.50, a payoff statement of the total amount due under the judgment at the time of the request. The statement may be relied upon by the person for up to 30 days from the time it is issued unless proof of satisfaction of the judgment is provided.
2. When the depository records show that the obligor's account is current, the depository shall record a satisfaction of the judgment upon request of any interested person and upon receipt of the appropriate recording fee. Any person shall be entitled to rely upon the recording of the satisfaction.
3. The local depository, at the direction of the department, or the obligee in a non-IV-D case, may partially release the judgment as to specific real property, and the depository shall record a partial release upon receipt of the appropriate recording fee.
4. The local depository is not liable for errors in its recordkeeping, except when an error is a result of unlawful activity or gross negligence by the clerk or his or her employees.
(7) When modification of an existing order of support is sought, the proof required to modify a settlement agreement and the proof required to modify an award established by court order shall be the same.
(8)1(a) When reviewing and approving any lump-sum settlement under s. 440.20(11)(a) and (b), a judge of compensation claims must consider whether the settlement serves the interests of the worker and the worker's family, including, but not limited to, whether the settlement provides for appropriate recovery of any child support arrearage.
(b) In accordance with the provisions of s. 440.22, any compensation due or that may become due an employee under chapter 440 is exempt from garnishment, attachment, execution, and assignment of income, except for the purposes of enforcing child or spousal support obligations.
(9) Unless otherwise ordered by the court or agreed to by the parties, the obligation to pay the current child support for that child is terminated when the child reaches 18 years of age or the disability of nonage is removed. The termination of the current child support obligation does not otherwise terminate the obligation to pay any arrearage, retroactive support, delinquency, or costs owed by the obligor.
(10)(a) In a Title IV-D case, if an obligation to pay current child support is terminated due to the emancipation of the child and the obligor owes an arrearage, retroactive support, delinquency, or costs, the obligor shall continue to pay at the same rate in effect immediately prior to emancipation until all arrearages, retroactive support, delinquencies, and costs are paid in full or until the amount of the order is modified. Any income-deducted amount or amount paid by the obligor which is in excess of the obligation to pay current support shall be credited against the arrearages, retroactive support, delinquency, and costs owed by the obligor.
(b) In a Title IV-D case, if an obligation to pay current child support for multiple children is reduced due to the emancipation of one child and the obligor owes an arrearage, retroactive support, delinquency, or costs, the obligor shall continue to pay at the same rate in effect immediately prior to emancipation until all arrearages, retroactive support, delinquencies, and costs are paid in full or until the amount of the order is modified. Any income-deducted amount or amount paid by the obligor which is in excess of the obligation to pay current support shall be credited against the arrearages, retroactive support, delinquency, and costs owed by the obligor. If an obligation to pay current support for more than one child is not reduced when a child is emancipated because the order does not allocate support per child, this paragraph does not apply.
(c) Paragraphs (a) and (b) provide an additional remedy for collection of unpaid support and apply to cases in which a support order was entered before, on, or after July 1, 2004.
(11)(a) A court may, upon good cause shown, and without a showing of a substantial change of circumstances, modify, vacate, or set aside a temporary support order before or upon entering a final order in a proceeding.
(b) The modification of the temporary support order may be retroactive to the date of the initial entry of the temporary support order; to the date of filing of the initial petition for dissolution of marriage, initial petition for support, initial petition determining paternity, or supplemental petition for modification; or to a date prescribed in paragraph (1)(a) or s. 61.30(11)(c) or (17), as applicable.
History.--ss. 1, 2, ch. 16780, 1935; CGL 1936 Supp. 4993(1); s. 16, ch. 67-254; s. 16, ch. 71-241; s. 2, ch. 75-67; s. 124, ch. 86-220; s. 5, ch. 87-95; s. 6, ch. 88-176; s. 14, ch. 91-45; s. 5, ch. 92-138; s. 3, ch. 93-208; s. 335, ch. 95-147; s. 15, ch. 95-222; s. 7, ch. 97-170; s. 40, ch. 98-397; s. 5, ch. 99-375; s. 1, ch. 2001-91; ss. 10, 11, ch. 2001-158; s. 3, ch. 2002-173; s. 73, ch. 2003-402; s. 1, ch. 2004-47; s. 50, ch. 2004-265; s. 4, ch. 2004-334.
1Note.--As amended by s. 1, ch. 2001-91. For a description of multiple acts in the same session affecting a statutory provision, see preface to the Florida Statutes, "Statutory Construction." Paragraph (8)(a) was also amended by s. 11, ch. 2001-158, and that version reads:
(8)(a) When reviewing any settlement of lump-sum payment pursuant to s. 440.20(11)(a) and (b), judges of compensation claims shall consider the interests of the worker and the worker's family when approving the settlement, which must consider and provide for appropriate recovery of past due support.
Note.--Former s. 65.15.