Court Examines Determinations of Income in Florida Child Support Cases

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.

Determinations of Income in Florida Child Support Cases

The appellate court agreed with the mother and reversed the judgment. In doing so, it noted that the trial court’s determinations regarding the mother’s income were not supported by substantial, competent evidence. Specifically, neither party offered information regarding the amount of money, if any, the mother received from her fiancé.

Further, the appellate court explained that pursuant to Florida law, in-kind payments made to a parent by their new spouse should not be considered additional income for the purposes of calculating child support. Based on the foregoing, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling.

Contact a Dedicated Miami Attorney

In Florida, child support obligations are largely income-based, and if a court modifies a support order based on an incorrect calculation of a party’s income, the modification may be improper. If you have concerns regarding a child support order, it is smart to contact an attorney to assess your rights. The dedicated Miami child support attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., have ample experience navigating the complexities of child support disputes, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. Our office is in Aventura, and we regularly help people with family law matters in Miami. You can contact us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a conference.