COVID-19 UPDATE: Sandy T. Fox, P.A. remains open remotely to serve our community and assist them with their family law needs. We can be reached via the contact form on the site, and meetings can be handled virtually through the Zoom teleconferencing app.

Articles Posted in Modification (Child Support)

Florida law dictates that all parents have a duty to support their children financially. When parents share custody of a child, this is often reflected through the imposition of child support obligations. While one parent may be compelled to pay child support to the other, such support is for the benefit of the child, not the parent. As such, in cases in which a court is presented with factors indicating a support obligation should be offset, their paramount concern should be the child’s welfare, not the financial status of the parents, as discussed in a recent Florida case.  If you have questions regarding child support, it is in your best interest to confer with a Miami child support attorney as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the father and the mother had one child during their marriage and subsequently divorced. The court granted them joint custody and time-sharing rights and order the father to pay the mother child support. The father failed to make any payments for a lengthy period of time and incurred a significant arrearage. He subsequently filed a petition to modify time-sharing. The court granted the motion and modified the custody order to indicate that the child would reside primarily with the father.

Reportedly, the court also imposed a child support obligation on the mother. It then set off the mother’s obligation against the father’s arrearage and stated that the mother would not have to pay child support for years. The father appealed. 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 ›

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.

Continue reading ›

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.

Continue reading ›

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.)

Continue reading ›

Florida law gives trial court judges a lot of options in how they resolve issues like child support obligations. As part of that process, the law recognizes that a supporting parent may provide support to his/her child in meaningful and valuable ways beyond just paying cash to the majority timesharing parent. The law factors those other forms of support when determining how much the parent’s monthly monetary payments should be.

That, however, can lead to problems sometimes. Specifically, what do you do if the court factored in a non-cash form of support, but the supporting parent never actually incurred that expense? These and other tricky issues when it comes to child support are good examples of why it pays be sure that you have a skilled South Florida family law attorney on your side throughout your case.

The above scenario was what happened in C.C.’s case. When determining the amount of support P.S., the father, owed, the judge made a decision that was what the law calls a “substantial deviation” from the amount indicated by the Florida child support guidelines. Whenever a judge enters an order on child support and the obligation amount is a significant deviation from what the guidelines call for, the judge must have a good reason for deviating, and must clearly state why the deviation was appropriate.

If you are familiar with Florida’s legal rules that relate to child support, then you may have heard the phrase “imputed income.” Imputed income means that, when it comes to calculating child support, a court will perform that calculation based upon that imputed income amount, even though the paying parent’s actual income is less–sometimes significantly less. A court may assign imputed income because the paying parent is unemployed by choice, or is voluntarily employed in a job making less than what he’s capable of earning. These rules exist to prevent a paying spouse from not working or underperforming by choice in order to avoid paying more child support.

So, then, one important question that may be on your mind is when, exactly, can a court impute income? What if I relocated to a new city and the job prospects there are less lucrative? What if I began working fewer hours because I needed to care for a seriously ill family member? What if I decided that I simply wanted to “slow down” a bit in terms of work? For helpful answers to questions about your specific situation, be sure to consult a knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney.

D.W. and T.W. were parents involved in this kind of dispute. When they divorced in 2009, the father agreed to pay $550 per month in child support. Several years later, financial circumstances had changed and both parents were back in court seeking a modification of child support. The father, who was once a high-level executive chef and had also owned his own restaurant in the Panama City area, had left that work to run a small coffee shop with his current wife.

In this blog, and likely in other sources, you’ve read pieces emphasizing the importance of not “going it alone” in your family law case, but instead obtaining a skilled South Florida family law attorney to represent you in your action. That’s advice is effective for many reasons. One is that, while you may think that your case will simply come down the resolution of factual disputes, almost any type of case (whether it’s family law or something else) can be greatly helped by a legal professional with in-depth knowledge of the procedural rules in effect in Florida.

As a real-life example of this, here’s the case of D.S. and A.S. The Seminole County couple was in court over a child support dispute. The mother, A.S., wanted the father, D.S., to pay more child support (in terms of duration). She filed a “petition for modification of child support.” The trial court in Seminole County referred the case to a general magistrate.

There might be several strategic or tactical reasons why you might prefer that your case not be heard by a magistrate. This father found himself in that position and timely filed a written objection to the referral to the magistrate. Despite the promptly lodged written objection, the case still went forward before the magistrate and the mother was successful, with the magistrate extending the father’s child support obligation for an additional one year.

A Miami-Dade mother may be in the position of going from receiving child support to paying support. The mother’s attempt to challenge a court order creating this modification failed as the 3d District Court of Appeal ruled that the procedural basis she used for challenging the modification was incorrect, and, as a result, the trial court lacked jurisdiction to hear the mother’s request.

When J.T. (father) and E.T. (mother) divorced in 2002, they reached a mediated settlement agreement as part of that case. The agreement stated that the husband would pay $444 per month in support for the couple’s one child. A decade later, the father went back to court to modify child support. He was approaching retirement, and his retirement would lead to a substantial reduction in his income. A hearing officer looked at both parents’ evidence and decided that, based upon the new income figures, the mother now owed the father a child support obligation in the amount of $384 per month. The trial judge approved the officer’s findings on March 24, 2013.

Continue reading ›

A recent case originating in Jacksonville led the 1st District Court of Appeal to throw out part of a trial court’s decision to modify a parenting plan and calculate child support. The evidence in the case did not show that a substantial change in circumstances had taken place to warrant a plan modification, and there was also insufficient evidence to support the manner in which the trial court calculated each parent’s income in arriving at the father’s support obligation amount.

The case centered around the daughter of T.B. (father) and V.B. (mother), a couple who divorced in 2005. In 2011, the father sought to amend the parenting plan. He also filed a motion asking the court to lower his child support obligation.

Continue reading ›

01
02
03
04
05
06
07
08