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Father Required to Pay Interest on Arrearage Before Child Support Case Can Be Closed

piles-of-money.jpgA couple’s long-running legal battle over child support will run a while longer, as the 3d District Court of Appeal reversed a lower court ruling that would have closed the case. The appeals court instead sent the case back, ruling that the trial court should have heard additional evidence, and issued an award, regarding the interest that accrued on the father’s support arrearage from the time the court issued an order in April 2010 until the husband paid off the pre-interest balance in August 2012.

The issue of child support following the divorce of Nivia and Albert Lascaibar was a long-running dispute, making its way through the courts in South Florida for a period of two decades. By 2010, a magistrate calculated the father’s child support arrearages to be in excess of $82,800. The magistrate also stated that “interest has and shall continue to accrue on any outstanding arrearage.” After the father paid off that $82,800 sum, the trial court declared the case closed.

The mother appealed. She claimed that the court erroneously failed to continue to assess interest on the back-owed support and award a sum based upon that interest calculation. The appeals court agreed. Most of the elements of the case seemed to point toward the mother’s entitlement to this interest. The father’s attorney essentially conceded that his client owed the interest at a court hearing on the arrearage. The magistrate’s report (recommendations to the judge) stated that interest would “continue to accrue on any outstanding arrearage,” and the court’s order affirmed that recommendation.

As a result, the mother was entitled to present evidence of the amount interest that accrued from April 2010, when the court issued its order establishing the $82,800 arrearage amount, to August 2012, when the husband made a lump sum payment of $38,800 to pay off the balance of the arrearage.

The mother might have been entitled to more interest had she taken a different tactical approach to her case. The magistrate’s report of April 2010 addressed interest going forward only. At a later hearing before the trial judge, the mother argued that the interest award should also include time prior to the April 2010 order. Both the trial court, and later the appeals court, ruled that the mother could not litigate this issue because she waited too long. The proper procedure would have been to contest that part of the magistrate’s April 2010 report regarding interest within 10 days of the date the report was legally served on her. Since the mother did not act in time, the law prohibited her from litigating the issue of interest prior to April 2010.

Child support cases like that of the Lascaibars illustrate how complicated, contentious, and long-running these matters can become. To make sure that your children are receiving (or you are paying) exactly what Florida law requires, talk to the South Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. Our attorneys can provide you with the clear advice and the zealous advocacy your family needs.

Contact us online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.

More blog posts:

Marital Settlement Agreements, Child Support, and College Students, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Sept. 17, 2014
Couple’s Agreement Didn’t Contract Away Child’s Right to Receive Support, Survives Wife’s Challenge, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Jan. 14, 2014

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