For many Florida parents, being able to afford monthly child support payments is a major issue. In fact, a study from the Urban Institute showed that 70 percent of all child support debts are owed by people who earn less than $10,000 a year or have no reported income at all. Nevertheless, the legal consequences for failing to make child support payments are extremely damaging; they can include expensive fines and even jail time.

The child support system is often particularly hard on African American fathers. In 2015, for example, an African American father of four children was fatally shot after he fled from police. He had reportedly been $18,000 in child support debt. He had lost his job and gone to jail over child custody issues previously, compelling him to run. For other child support debtors, the vicious cycle of imprisonment and job loss ultimately means that they are unable to improve their financial circumstances while their children suffer.

What some parents who are required to pay child support may not realize is that they can request a modification of their child support order with the help of an attorney if their circumstances change. For example, if they lose their job or become injured and cannot work, the court may lower their monthly payments until circumstances improve. However, the majority of these parents may not be able to afford legal counsel.

In many cases, it’s in the best interests of the kids for their parents to be involved in their lives. However, child custody issues may prevent parents from being actively involved in their children’s lives, especially if they are behind on support payments. A child custody law firm may help a parent request a modification of their child support order.