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Articles Posted in Child Support

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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Many of us, at some point, have made a job change expecting the new job to improve our lives professionally, financially and personally, only to realize just a few months later that, rather than an improvement, the new job is a financial disaster. If that happens to you, it can have many negative consequences, especially if you’re someone who owes a child support obligation. There is a little bit of good news: depending on your specific circumstances, a skilled South Florida family law attorney may be able to take evidence of your reduced income and help you get a modification of child support and a smaller monthly payment.

P.S. was a father caught in that type of situation with his child support obligation. In 2016, he was a financial advisor at a major investment firm, but decided to make a lateral move to another major investment firm. Unfortunately for P.S., a major scandal rocked his new employer just after he changed jobs. It started in the company’s banking division but, eventually, the scandal spread into the brokerage unit, according to a CNBC report from November 2016.

This was a huge problem for P.S. In the investment industry, financial advisors who change firms often bring their clients with them from the old firm to their new firm. However, due to the cloud of scandal plaguing P.S.’s new employer, he failed to persuade many of his clients to switch. As a result, he failed to hit several performance targets and that failure meant that his overall income took a significant nosedive.

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When you go through the process of getting a divorce and you have minor children from the marriage, there are multiple legal issues that must be synthesized and work together. If not, problems are almost inevitable. For example, if your timesharing and your child support are based upon two different parenting plans, then something is going to go wrong. Either you’ll be paying too much (or too little) in child support, or else you may be getting an incorrect amount of timesharing. Whatever has happened, you still have options; namely, through the process of making a motion for modification. To make sure you’re going about that process properly, be sure you have a skilled South Florida family law attorney by your side.

A.C. and E.C. were a couple whose divorce case was an example of this problem. The couple had two minor children, and their 2013 divorce included a parenting plan and child support order. The parenting plan gave the father roughly 82 nights of timesharing. For reasons not explained by the Court of Appeal, the child support order did something very different: it calculated support based on the father having the children for 146 nights. Obviously, this disparity could potentially make a huge difference in the child support amount calculated under the guidelines.

Four years later, the mother asked for a modification of child support. The father responded by filing a claim for modification of timesharing.

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When you are in court on a paternity case, two of the main legal things that you’ll likely be concerned with are timesharing and child support. One of the key things to keep in mind is that these two elements should be interconnected with one another; which is to say that, if you are the parent paying child support but you also have the child for a significant amount of time, then the law says that latter fact should entitle you to pay the child’s other parent a smaller amount of child support each month. To make sure the child support you’ve been ordered to pay is fair, based on the totality of your circumstances, be sure you have representation from a skilled South Florida family law attorney.

How does that reduction process work? A recent case from Palm Beach County offers a good example. K.W. was a father living in North Carolina, and R.B., the mother, lived in West Palm Beach. After the mother filed a paternity petition, the court set up a parenting plan. The plan called for one schedule in even-numbered years and a different schedule in odd-numbered years. This type of plan is not uncommon, as it allows each parent to, for example, have the child for 1/2 of the summers and also 1/2 of Christmases.

This child spent 84 overnights with the father in even-numbered years, but fewer than 73 in odd-numbered years. This was because the plan dictated that the father was to have the child for summer break and winter break in even-numbered years, but not in odd-numbered years. As a percentage, that meant the child spent 77% of the time with the mother, and 23% with the father in even-numbered years. In odd-numbered years, the child spent less than 20% of the year with the father.

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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.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people in many ways, including financially. Some may be struggling to keep their homes, while others may be struggling to feed their families. Some of those who have been thrown into dire financial straits here in Florida are people who have alimony obligations. If that’s you, the worst thing you can do is sit idly by and do nothing as you fall behind on your alimony. Instead, take action right away to get in touch with an experienced South Florida family law attorney and begin taking the actions that the law lets you take.

Even as Florida has re-opened most of its businesses, problems remain. Late last month, the government once again shuttered all bars, according to a NBC Miami report. You can imagine then, if you’re the proprietor of a popular bar in Fort Lauderdale Beach (from which you derive most of your income) and you’re also a divorced spouse who owes a monthly alimony payment, the re-closure of all bars in the Sunshine State is a source of major stress for you.

The law does still give you options, though. To get your alimony payments lowered, you will have to clear several legal hurdles. The first thing you absolutely must do is prove that you have a change of circumstances. Furthermore, that change has to be both (1) substantial and (2) something that could not have been anticipated when alimony was litigated (or set via a mutual agreement.) In other words, if you’re 63 years old when you sign your alimony agreement, you may not be able to turn around at age 65 and get a downward modification of alimony based on your retirement (and the reduction in income it created.)

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Having representation from a skilled South Florida family law attorney offers many benefits, including being fully prepared to take on whatever unexpected twists or changes occur in your case. Sometimes, the facts of your family law case may be very straightforward and stable but, other times they may turn “on a dime.” In either case, but especially in the latter, having the right legal counsel can help you to respond to these surprise twists in the way that will best benefit your case.

A few areas where sudden changes can have drastic consequences are child support and alimony. If your ex (whom you did not know was even in a relationship) abruptly and unexpectedly gets married, then that sudden change may significantly reduce (or even eliminate) the amount of alimony and/or child support you owe. But… what happens if that sudden change happens after your hearing but before the court enters its final judgment? Can you still seek a recalculation based on that change or has unfortunate timing left you out of luck?

As a recent case from the Tampa area shows, you absolutely still have options that you can – and should – use. In that recent case, the main issue in dispute was child support and imputed income. Imputed income is what happens when the court calculates one spouse or parent’s income at some higher amount than their actual income.

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