Articles Posted in Modification (Child Support)

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.

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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.

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If you’re a parent paying child support, while you undoubtedly desire to provide for your children, avoiding overpaying is also important, since being forced to overpay may impair your ability to be involved in your children’s lives in other ways, as well as impeding your ability to meet other financial obligations. That’s why it is often very important to understand the situations and criteria under which Florida law lets you go to court to seek a reduction in your child support obligation. One circumstance that can derail an otherwise valid petition for reducing child support is having a willful arrearage, as one Manatee County father found out in a case decided by the 2d District Court of Appeal recently.

When a Florida couple divorced in 2009, the husband was ordered to pay child support. By the spring of 2012, the husband had fallen behind, amassing a total child support arrearage in excess of $11,700. The husband was held in contempt of court at that time. Nearly a year and a half later, the husband returned to court seeking to reduce his child support obligation. The wife countered by asking the court to increase the child support amount and offered evidence that the husband’s back-owed child support amount had swelled to more than $24,000.
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In child support matters, there are certain issues that can be murky and complicated to ascertain, such as identifying when a change of circumstances has occurred that is significant enough to warrant a modification of a payor parent’s child support amount. While identifying the payor spouse’s income for purposes of calculating child support might seem like an easier task, this is not always the case, especially when the payor spouse’s income includes irregular but large bonuses. This was the case in a legal battle in the 4th District Court of Appeal between a political consultant and his ex-wife.

The couple divorced in 2009. Several years later, the mother returned to court to ask that it modify the child support order and raise the amount the father owed. The mother argued that the father made nearly $495,000 in 2012 and that this amount should serve as the basis for a calculation of the modified support amount. The trial court agreed with the mother and ordered the modification.
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In today’s world, personal and professional situations often dictate that individuals and families do not stay in one place forever. You may have lived in one state, and within a few years, you, your ex, and your children may have all moved away. When this happens, the rules of jurisdiction may limit what court may issue rulings on your case. A mother who had not lived in Florida since before she got divorced was able to get a court order modifying her ex-husband’s child support obligation thrown out recently based on these rules. Since the couple’s divorce and child support order came from California, and the mother had not done any of the acts required to give Florida courts jurisdiction over the case, the 5th District Court of Appeal decided that the Florida modification order was invalid.

A. (wife) and R. (husband) married in Florida and had one child born here in 2000. Soon after the child’s birth, the family relocated to California. The couple eventually divorced, obtaining a California judgment in 2005. That California resolution included a child support order relating to the couple’s child. In 2008, the father, who had returned to Florida, asked a court here to domesticate the California judgment, which means making the decision valid and recognizable in Florida. The father also asked the court to modify his child support obligation. The court agreed and entered the order.
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For many students who go from high school directly to full-time college attendance, continued financial dependence on their parents is an economic reality. Realizing this, many divorcing parents address what happens to child support in the event that a child goes to college. Understanding exactly what your marital settlement agreement says on this issue is extremely important, since even seemingly minor variations in the agreement’s language can yield substantially different results. In one recent 4th District Court of Appeal case, the court terminated a father’s child support for a child who lived on campus at the University of Florida because the couple’s agreement required that the child was “living at home” with the mother, not just maintaining a permanent residence at the mother’s home and residing there during school breaks.

In 2004, couple in this case finalized their divorce. The spouses had reached a marital settlement agreement, which addressed child support. The father agreed to continue paying support on any child until that child’s 21st birthday if the child was attending college and living at home with the mother.
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A magistrate judge modified a husband’s child support obligation, in part, due to the magistrate’s own opinions about the wife’s true income as a nail salon worker, in addition to relying on outside sources like an IRS tax guide. Because these were not proper bases for making a determination, the 4th District Court of Appeal reversed the lower court’s ruling favoring the husband.

When this Florida couple divorced, their marital settlement agreement that listed several events that would terminate the father’s child support obligation for the couple’s two children, including eighteenth birthdays and high-school graduations.

After the couple’s son turned 18 in 2008 and graduated from high school in 2009, the husband asked the trial court to modify his child support based upon the changes regarding the son’s status. As part of this hearing, the magistrate judge received evidence from both spouses regarding income. The wife, who worked in a nail salon, testified under oath about her income. The magistrate, using her knowledge from three decades of patronizing nail salons and overseeing family law cases in Palm Beach County, concluded that the wife’s testimony was not truthful. The magistrate, based upon these conclusions and her taking judicial notice of an IRS tax guide and another resource, imputed extra income to the wife and the trial court adopted the magistrate’s determinations.
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A husband succeeded used a procedural basis to persaude the 4th District Court of Appeal that it should revive a reduction of his child support. The appeals court concluded that the husband was correct that the man’s ex-wife’s trial court motion, which sought to reinstated his original, higher support obligation, was filed too late and should have been rejected as untimely by the trial court.

This family law dispute arose after the husband suffered a decrease in income and asked a Palm Beach County Circuit Court to reduce his child support obligation. On Feb. 3, 2012, the court granted that request. Two and one-half weeks later, the wife asked the trial court to vacate the support modification order. The trial court initially ruled that the wife made her request too late, but ultimately decided to consider her request and vacated the previous order, thus reinstating the husband’s original child support obligation.

The husband appealed, arguing that the wife did not submit her motion in a timely manner. He also appealed the trial court’s order denying his request to disqualify the trial court judge assigned to his case. The 4th DCA agreed with the husband regarding the timeliness of the wife’s motion. The crux of the wife’s argument before the lower court was that the rules gave her an extra five days in which to file and, factoring those days in, she submitted her motion on time. The appeal court, however, determined that the wife was not entitled to the extra five days she attempted to claim. The five-additional-day rule only applied to litigants whom the court’s order demanded that they take some action within a specific period of time.
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An ex-husband successfully secured primary physical custody of the four children he shared with his ex-wife, but failed to persuade a trial court to order his ex-wife to pay child support on all four children. That’s because a governmental agency already paid a monthly stipend for the fourth child and, since the trial court’s custody modification order gave that stipend to the husband, a Florida appeals court determined that it was not improper to refrain from making the ex-wife pay child support on that child.

J.L.B. and his wife, S.J.B., divorced in 2008. Initially following the divorce, the wife held primary physical custody of the children. Following an incident in which the Florida Department of Children and Families removed the couple’s children from the wife’s home, the husband asked an Orange County court to give him sole custody of the children or, at least, make him the primary physical custodian. The court agreed and ordered that the husband receive majority time-sharing within a joint custody arrangement.

As part of this ruling, the court also assessed a child support obligation to the wife. The husband promptly appealed the child support portion of the court’s ruling. The husband argued that the trial made an error by calculating the wife’s support obligation based on three children, when the couple shared custody of four children.
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