Florida Court Examines Child Support Set Offs

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.

Child Support Set Offs

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling to the extent that it offset the mother’s child support obligation. In doing so, the court explained that a child support order imposes an obligation to the child rather than creating a duty one parent owes the other. As such, set offs of obligations should only be granted if there is evidence of compelling equitable considerations and criteria that justifies the set off.

In evaluating whether to set off a child support obligation, the court’s main concern should be protecting the child’s economic well-being; as such, courts have denied child support offsets that place the ongoing financial support of a child in jeopardy. Further, no Florida ruling supports the reasoning that a complete set off of a support obligation is appropriate. In the subject case, as the trial court did not make the findings required to support a set off, the ruling was reversed.

Talk to a Skilled Miami Attorney

When parents who share custody of a child have disparate incomes, a court may find it appropriate to order the higher-earning parent to pay child support. If you share custody of a child and want to learn more about your rights and obligations with regard to child support, it is smart to talk to an attorney. The skilled Miami attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A can assess the facts of your case and advise you of options for seeking a good outcome. Our office is located in Aventura, and we regularly represent people in child support cases in Miami. You can reach us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a meeting.