For most people, their incomes are reasonably stable. They may experience one or two or three major “bumps” in earnings over a career, but their incomes mostly move on a gradual upward track. However, what do you do if your child’s other parent is one of those less common people whose income can change dramatically over short periods of time? For any parent that needs to pursue a child support case, but especially if you’re someone with an ex whose income is marked by dramatic and unexpected upturns, you need to make sure you have a skilled South Florida child support attorney handling your case.
There are several fields of work where earnings can be very volatile, such as actors, models and athletes. F.G. was one of those people. In 2005, he signed a rookie contract to play in the National Football League. At that time, F.G. had only minimal assets and was earning a relatively modest income consistent with the NFL’s “rookie contract” structure.
During that time, F.G. had a son with S.S. The father and mother established a mediated settlement agreement covering, among other things, child support. Six years later, the mother went back to court, asking for an upward modification in child support. While the father had always paid his child support, the mother argued that the modification was necessary.
That change was needed, S.S. argued, for two reasons. One, the father had encountered a massive (and unforeseen) uptick in income and wealth. Despite being only the sixth-highest running back taken in the 2005 NFL draft, F.G. quickly achieved great wealth. F.G. become one of the NFL’s premier running backs, and had signed contracts reflecting that. (His second contract paid him nearly $28 million over four years and his third contract paid him nearly $19 million over three years.)
The second alleged reason for an upward modification was that, while the father’s income and assets were growing, so was his son. By 2014, the son was 12 years old and, due to growth, “had an increased need for food, clothing, entertainment, enrichment activities, transportation, electronic equipment, etc.”
An increased ability to pay may, by itself, justify an upward modification
So, is the fact that your child’s other parent achieves great success in a volatile business enough to get you an upward modification in child support? The appeals court said it was. In Florida, there are various ways you can “make your case” for an upward modification of child support. One method is to prove that “an increase in support is necessary” to satisfy “the best interest of the child.” Another way is to show that the supporting parent has experienced an increased ability to pay.
S.S.’s proof did that. She established that F.G.’s income had grown massively, giving him an increased ability to pay more child support. She also established that there had been a significant uptick in the son’s expenses. That, according to the courts, justified the upward modification.
Going to court in a child support case can be a very stressful time. You may face an ex who possesses great wealth and resources to put into the case. If that’s you, don’t go in alone. Retain the skilled attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. to give you the advice and advocacy you need. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation and find out how you can put this office to work for you.