When you go through the process of getting a divorce and you have minor children from the marriage, there are multiple legal issues that must be synthesized and work together. If not, problems are almost inevitable. For example, if your timesharing and your child support are based upon two different parenting plans, then something is going to go wrong. Either you’ll be paying too much (or too little) in child support, or else you may be getting an incorrect amount of timesharing. Whatever has happened, you still have options; namely, through the process of making a motion for modification. To make sure you’re going about that process properly, be sure you have a skilled South Florida family law attorney by your side.
A.C. and E.C. were a couple whose divorce case was an example of this problem. The couple had two minor children, and their 2013 divorce included a parenting plan and child support order. The parenting plan gave the father roughly 82 nights of timesharing. For reasons not explained by the Court of Appeal, the child support order did something very different: it calculated support based on the father having the children for 146 nights. Obviously, this disparity could potentially make a huge difference in the child support amount calculated under the guidelines.
Four years later, the mother asked for a modification of child support. The father responded by filing a claim for modification of timesharing.
In resolving a case like this, one of the areas into which the court will look is: what did you actually do? If the children had actually been staying with the father far more than just 82 nights per year, that might have been strong evidence favoring his motion. If the children only spent 82 (or fewer) nights per year with the father, then the mother’s case would become much stronger.
In this case, the latter was true. The proof demonstrated that the father never exercised more than 82 overnights of timesharing in any year. That evidence tilted the case in favor of the mother’s motion for modification for increasing the child support obligation. It also meant leaving the timesharing aspect of the parenting plan unchanged.
The importance of a retroactive date in any child support modification case
Another important point that cases like this one demonstrates is making sure that, whether you are making arguments in the trial court or the appeals court, you address all of the issues you are entitled to raise. That’s because, even if you’re unsuccessful in one area, there may be other arguments essential to protecting your rights.
For example, this father lost his request to modify timesharing and to keep child support unchanged. However, in many child support modification cases (including this one,) there’s more than just contesting whether or not child support should be changed at all. There is also the matter of the date of retroactivity.
In this case, the father included in his appeal a challenge to the date of retroactivity. The trial court had wrongfully placed the date of retroactivity as the inception of the parenting plan in 2013. The law, however, says that a modification of child support should only be retroactive to the date of the supplemental petition for modification. So, in this case, the date of retroactivity should have been 2017, not 2013, which of course can make many thousands of dollars of difference to you if you’re the supporting parent.
When it comes time to seek, to contest or to modify an award of child support, it pays to have the right legal representation. Rely on the skilled South Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. to provide you with that kind of useful legal advice and effective advocacy. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation and find out how we can put our decades of experience to work for you.