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.
In C.C.’s case, the court had approved her request to move with the children to another state in order for her to pursue a job there. The father, who remained in Florida, was 100% responsible for paying all the travel expenses of his visitation with the children. That, the judge decided, warranted giving the father credit for those costs and making the father’s child support an amount less than what the guidelines called for.
In general, such an arrangement can be a reasonable and fair solution. In this circumstance, there was a problem, which was that the father reportedly did not actually carry out most of his timesharing opportunities. That, of course, meant that he was getting credit for travel expenses for travel that he never made.
When that happens, you, as the parent with majority timesharing, can seek and obtain an order from the court adjusting the amount of child support owed. As part of that request, you can ask the judge to award retroactive monetary support to make up for the credit for expenses that the supporting parent never actually spent.
Proving the ‘substantial change of circumstances’ requirement
Florida law requires you to demonstrate to the court that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred before the judge can order any kind of modification to child support. Fortunately, the law also recognizes that this kind of situation is, in itself, a significant change of circumstances. The law says that a “parent’s failure to regularly exercise the time-sharing schedule … not caused by the other parent which resulted in the adjustment of the amount of child support” qualifies as “a substantial change of circumstances for purposes of modifying the child support award.”
C.C.’s was exactly that kind of situation. The father, through no fault of the mother, failed to exercise his timesharing regularly, and that warranted an adjustment in child support. As a result, the trial judge was allowed to modify the child support obligation and demand that the father pay $39,000 in retroactive child support (payable over time.)
Sometimes, child custody, timesharing and child support cases are as straightforward as deciding who gets the kids during what school breaks and then following the child support guidelines to set the child support dollar amount. Many times, though, cases are not that simple. Simple or complex, make sure you are prepared to succeed in your case by having skillful legal representation. The South Florida child custody attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. are here to help. Our diligent attorneys have been providing clients with clear advice and effective advocacy for many years in child support, child custody and timesharing cases. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.