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Articles Posted in Child Support

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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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.

Continue reading ›

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