Experienced South Florida


Can having more kids impact your existing child support obligation? Part 2

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2023 | Child Support

In part 1 of this post, we started a discussion of the complex child support issues that arise in Florida when an obligor-parent has other children not covered by the order. We explained that when a judge is considering child support such as in a Florida divorce trial, if a parent is current on their child support payments for their children outside the marriage, those payments can reduce that parent’s net income available for support payments in the current trial.

In other words, the court will rarely reduce the first child support order because of the children (and the expenses to care for them) at issue in the divorce. The law prioritizes the first child support order. Florida cases make it clear that a child support payor-parent can rarely create new life circumstances (like having more children) that would form the basis to lower the amount of the first order for child support.

What about a parent’s request to modify child support despite the paying parent having had more children?

The Florida child support statute is clear and specific about the limited role of subsequently born or adopted kids in a proceeding to modify an earlier child support obligation. the subsequent children may not “justify a decease in an existing award.” In limited circumstances, the judge may consider the cost of supporting subsequent kids, but only “in a proceeding for an upward modification of an existing award …”

  • In deciding whether to increase an existing child support obligation, if the obligor-parent (payor) resides with their subsequent children and works a second job primarily to support them, the court can deduct the income from the secondary employment from the parent’s gross income when determining net income available for the requested increase.
  • In the scenario where a payor-parent faces a petition for an increase in an existing award, but also has a second child support obligation for subsequent children, that parent may argue that the subsequent children should justify deviation from the amount the child support guidelines would otherwise require in the modification. However, raising the issue of the subsequent children means that the court must also take into account the income of those children’s other parent.
  • Otherwise, “the existence of such subsequent children should not as a general rule be considered by the court as a basis for disregarding the amount provided in the guidelines schedule.”

An exception for special circumstances

Florida courts have said that a subsequent child with severe illness or disability that may prevent a parent from working or that requires expensive medical care may support an exception to the “general rule” that subsequent children are not an appropriate basis for departing from the child support guideline amount. In other words, the payor-parent in this kind of special circumstance may not have to pay an increase or as much of an increase in a modification proceeding for an existing child support obligation.

Absent special circumstances or one of the exceptions described above, a subsequent child does not justify deviating from the guideline amounts.


The LAW OFFICES OF FORREST & Forrest, PLLC represents individuals in Fort Lauderdale in high-asset divorce matters. Daniel Forrest is board-certified family lawyer and mediator serving the South Florida area.

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