In some ways, calculating an appropriate child support obligation can be a bit like calculating income taxes. In situations in which the supporting parent (or the taxpayer in the tax return analogy) has exactly one source of income, the calculation may be very direct because it requires proof of only that one figure. In today’s economy, though, more and more people derive income from multiple sources. When that is true, the calculation process becomes more complicated. Additionally, just as a self-employed taxpayer often needs detailed proof of his income and expenses (particularly when he asserts that his business lost money), something similar is true of a business owner who owes child support. Florida law is very clear that, in order for the judge to factor in your business losses, you have to give the court hard proof of those losses. To make sure that you have all of the proof you need to achieve a successful result in your child support case, make sure that you have an experienced Florida child support attorney on your side.
The case of Ruben and Aixa was an example of how the lack of this type of proof can harm a supporting parent’s case. At trial, evidence demonstrated that Ruben had a variety of sources of income. He had a salary from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, living expenses reimbursement from the V.A., disability benefits, and rental income. He also had an indoor batting cage business in Orlando.
At the child support hearing, Ruben testified that his batting cage business was actually in the red during the relevant time period. The father then argued that the judge should take those business losses and subtract them from his other sources of income to calculate his true gross income. The trial court did subtract some of those losses and used the result of this subtraction as the gross-income figure from which it calculated Ruben’s child support payment.
The mother appealed, and she won. The problem was the evidence that Ruben had (or, more specifically, didn’t have) to support his claim of business losses on the batting cage operation. The Florida Statutes define business income as “gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income.” The law also says that, in a child support case, you have to prove your business losses with “competent, substantial evidence.” When the law says “competent, substantial evidence,” it means something more than just the business owner’s own conclusory testimony that his business lost money during the relevant period of time.
As a supporting parent, you need persuasive proof that objectively documents and quantifies the losses your business suffered. Without that evidence, your case will proceed, and your support obligation will be calculated as if those losses never happened at all.
Child support cases are a careful balancing act. The outcome should ensure that the child receives proper support from his or her parent, while also ensuring that the supporting parent is not overpaying, which could impede his or her ability to be an active participant in a relationship with the child. The diligent South Florida child support attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. have been helping both supporting parents and custodial parents navigate the legal system with regard to child support cases for many years. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.
More blog posts:
Situations in Which a Child Support Obligation Can Extend Past the Child’s 18th Birthday Under Florida Law, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, March 20, 2018
Imputing Income to a Parent in Florida, Even When that Parent Has a Disability, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Oct. 12, 2017