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Articles Posted in Child Support

It is not uncommon for married couples to earn disparate incomes; if they divorce, the courts may award the lesser earning spouse alimony or child support. The courts will not only consider a person’s salary when determining their income but also other sources of revenue. As illustrated in a recent Florida ruling, though, not all money received from an employer is necessarily considered income. If you or your spouse are considering ending your marriage and you have concerns about the financial impact of the decision, it is wise to talk to a skilled Miami divorce attorney as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the parties married in 2011 and had four children. They decided to end their marriage and proceeded with a divorce action. The father, who worked for a construction and utility company, was required to travel for work. He received per diem payments from his employer to offset the cost of travel. In determining the father’s income for purposes of calculating alimony and child support, the trial court included amounts listed on the father’s earning statements as per diem as income. The father appealed the final judgment of dissolution of marriage, arguing, among other things, that the court incorrectly calculated his income.

Determining Income for Purposes of Calculating Child Support

On appeal, the court determined that the trial court erred in ruling that the money the father received as a per diem from his employer was considered income. Specifically, the court noted that under Florida law, gross income only includes in kind payments or reimbursed expenses to the extent that they reduced living expenses. Continue reading ›

Typically, when a party is ordered to pay child support, the obligation lasts until the child receiving the support turns eighteen. In some instances, however, the obligation can extend past the age of majority. Recently, a Florida court discussed the grounds for extending a support obligation in a case in which the plaintiff sought support from her father due to her disabilities. If you are a Miami resident dealing with a dispute over child support obligations, it is advisable to consult a knowledgeable Miami family law attorney to discuss what steps you can take to fight to protect your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff, who was twenty-seven years old, filed a petition seeking child support from her father. The plaintiff had Down Syndrome, which prevented her from obtaining and maintaining gainful employment. When her parents divorced, her father was ordered to pay child support until the plaintiff turned eighteen, but since that time, she relied on her mother for financial support.

Allegedly, the defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s petition, arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction over the matter. He further alleged that there was no provision in the order dissolving his marriage that allowed the plaintiff to seek support, and no continued support was sought while the plaintiff was a minor. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion. The plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied. She then appealed.

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The Florida courts typically strive to protect the parent-child relationship, and will generally attempt to keep the relationship intact. The courts’ main directive in any custody case is determining an outcome that is in the best interest of the child involved, however, and if it requires terminating parental rights, it will. Recently, a Florida court addressed the issue of when the termination of parental rights is appropriate, in a matter in which the father argued that the court could have employed less restrictive means to protect the child’s interests. If your parental rights are in jeopardy, it is essential that you confer with a Miami child custody attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the trial court held a hearing to determine whether to terminate the father’s parental rights. The court noted that the child was born addicted to amphetamines and had lived with his maternal grandparents since birth. The father was incarcerated and had been since before the child was born and did not know the mother was pregnant prior to the child’s birth. Additionally, he repeatedly questioned whether he was the child’s biological father and suggested that, upon his release in 2025 or 2026, he could do a DNA test to establish if was the child’s father. The court found it in the child’s best interest to terminate the father’s rights. The father appealed.

The Least Restrictive Means Requirement in Termination of Parental Rights Cases

On appeal, the father argued that his due process rights were violated and that the termination of parental rights was not the least restrictive means to protect the child. The appellate court disagreed. Continue reading ›

Florida law imposes an obligation on all parents to provide financial support for their children. As such, when parents share custody of a child, the courts will frequently order one parent to pay the other parent child support. Generally, child support is based on the income of each parent. If a court determines that a parent voluntarily reduced their earnings, however, the court can impute income to them. Recently, a Florida court issued a ruling discussing imputed income and child support in a case in which the mother appealed the calculation of her support obligation. If you need assistance with a child support issue, it is advisable to meet with a Miami child support attorney as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is reported that the mother and father have two minor children. The father filed a petition to establish paternity and obtain custody rights and child support. The mother filed a counter-petition, seeking sole parental responsibility, the majority of timesharing, and child support. Following a trial, the court found that the mother, a self-employed lawyer that typically earned between $14,000 to $20,000 per year, was willingly underemployed.

Allegedly, the vocational expert that testified in the matter stated that the mother could find employment as an attorney, paralegal, or a community association manager if she chose to obtain a license in that field. Based on that testimony, the trial court imputed an income to the mother of $76,000 annually, in part due to the finding that she had a CAM license. The mother appealed on numerous grounds. The appellate court affirmed on all issues except the imputation of income to the mother and the court’s failure to make findings as to net income when calculating child support. Continue reading ›

Under Florida law, all parents have an obligation to financially support their minor children. Thus, in many cases in which parents share custody of a child, the courts will find it appropriate to order one parent to pay the other child support. Child support obligations are calculated, in part, based on the parent’s respective income. While income can include financial contributions from outside sources, the courts can only impute income to a party if there is competent evidence that it is appropriate. This was demonstrated in a recent ruling in which the court reversed a trial court’s order granting a modification of a child support obligation on the grounds that the trial determination of a mother’s income was not supported by competent evidence. If you need assistance with a child support issue, it is prudent to contact a Miami child support lawyer as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the mother and the father ended their marriage in 2015. At that time, they entered into a marital settlement agreement that included a determination of child support obligations. In 2017, the mother sought a modification of child support on the grounds that it was warranted due to the father’s recent salary increase, which constituted a substantial change in circumstances. In 2019, the father sought a modification of time-sharing.

Reportedly, the court resolved both motions in 2020 and issued a judgment stating, in pertinent part, that the mother could afford to be a stay-at-home parent because her fiancé covered a substantial amount of her living expenses. The judgment further stated that the fiancé’s payments must be included in the mother’s income for the purposes of calculating child support. The mother challenged the judgment, arguing that the trial court’s determination with regard to her income was improper. Continue reading ›

When a couple decides to divorce, the court is usually entrusted with settling matters like property distribution and whether either side is due child support or alimony . However, if the court makes an error or relies on false evidence, either side can appeal the decision. In a recent opinion in a Florida case, the grounds for seeking and getting a reversal of a trial court ruling in a divorce action were discussed. If you want to end your marriage, you should speak with an experienced Florida divorce lawyer about your options.

The Decision of the Trial Court

The couple allegedly wanted to end their marriage through divorce. Following the trial court’s issuance of a final ruling ending the marriage both parties appealed. The husband, among other things, opposed the equitable division, while the wife protested the child support award. The court overturned the trial court’s decision and remanded the case for further proceedings.

Orders in Divorce Cases Can Be Reversed

Initially, the husband objected to the trial court’s equitable distribution order. The abuse of discretion threshold is applied to a trial court’s allocation of marital responsibilities and assets, according to the appellate court. Furthermore, factual determinations based on significant competent evidence must be used to support the final distribution of marital assets. Continue reading ›

Sometimes, life may deal you multiple bad blows in succession, perhaps including jail time, income loss, and even a breakup of your marriage. If that marriage also included minor children, then you likely can expect your spouse to pursue an award of child support. If that happens, your incarceration or job resignation may lead a court to order you to pay support commensurate with an income that’s higher than what you actually make. This is called imputed income and, while it is sometimes available when events like a job resignation or incarceration occur, it is not automatic. With the help of a skilled South Florida child support lawyer, you can defeat your spouse’s argument for imputed income.

The idea behind imputed income is that a supporting parent should not be able to dodge paying support by voluntarily not working or working at a level far below his/her abilities. If your spouse was a Miami neurosurgeon making $750,000 a year and voluntarily left that job to take a position as a swimming instructor making $40,000 per year, he’s probably going to be considered voluntarily underemployed. A parent’s inability to earn a certain amount of income because of current or past incarceration is something that the law will also often view as voluntary.

Not every job change with a downward salary trajectory is voluntary underemployment, though. Take J.P., a dad from Orange County. He voluntarily left a job that paid him $68,000 per year. Two years later, J.P. was working for his parents and making $30,000 per year. J.P., however, could not be found to be voluntarily underemployed.

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In some divorce scenarios in Florida, the court may award sole occupancy of the marital home to one spouse and order the other spouse to make the payment on that home if the latter earns the bulk of the income. Judges are allowed to do this and frequently do. If you’re the spouse making the payment, it is important to recognize that you are entitled to certain benefits for meeting that expense. To make sure that you are getting all the credit you deserve for fulfilling this financial obligation, be sure that you have skilled representation from an experienced South Florida divorce lawyer.

The contested divorce of V.M. and L.M. is a good example. After the two divorced, the trial judge granted the wife exclusive occupancy of the house until the couple’s child reached age 18.

The order also placed the obligation for paying the mortgage and the HOA fees on the husband until the child reached the age of majority.

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The law office of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., recently secured an important victory in the Third District Court of Appeal on behalf of a Miami-Dade divorce client who had received an unfair ruling in the trial court. The court of appeal’s decision overturning that trial court ruling is an important reminder of the profound importance of having the right legal team in your corner. It is also a reminder that, while the law gives trial court judges very broad discretion in making their rulings, there are limits on what they can do.

The divorce case involved, among other things, the issues of alimony, child support and a parenting plan. The wife was a successful attorney who worked for the federal government and made more than $113,000 per year. The husband was a disabled former construction worker who made less than $30,000 per year, all from various forms of government benefits.

The spouses were able to use mediation successfully and resolve the division of their assets and liabilities. They also worked out a parenting plan at that time. When the case went to a hearing before the court, the spouses asked the judge to decide alimony, child support, and to adopt the parenting plan. The judge indicated that the parenting plan would be ratified.

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Here in 2021, families come in more shapes and sizes than ever. One of the byproducts of that is that you, as a parent, may be caring for and providing for children who came from multiple different relationships. So, what can you do if you have majority timesharing with some of your older children and now your ex-spouse or partner wants you to pay child support for the child you share with her? One of the first things you should do is reach out to an experienced South Florida family law attorney who can help you get a fair and just child support outcome that recognizes all the forms of support you are providing for all of your children.

A father from near Tallahassee found himself in that kind of difficult circumstance. The father had custody of two of his older children. He also had 40% timesharing with a younger child, a preschooler.

The mother of the preschooler went to court seeking an order imposing a child support obligation on the father. The trial support calculated how much the father would have been paying in child support for the two older children (if he was paying child support at the guidelines-indicated level) and subtracted that from his gross income. The trial judge then used the result of that calculation to determine the father’s child support obligation for the preschooler.

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