Recently in Child Support Category

September 22, 2012

Child support is a serious business

Paying child support in a timely fashion is important; not only is it important to the well being of your children, it is also important to your continuing freedom.

Although the Florida Constitution prohibits one from being imprisoned for a debt, the constitution will not protect you from being imprisoned as a result of non payment of your child support.

Although the Florida Constitution does provide safeguards for unlawful imprisonmement, if it is determined that the refusal to pay is willful, you most likely will be incarcerated for a period of time until something towards the child support arrears has been paid.

The local and national news is full of stories that deal with amnesty programs and other plans which are designed for and to encourage delinquent obligors to come forward with their child support payments.

However, these programs should not be considered as weakness or being lax on the part of the state enforcement divisions for the collection of child support. For example, Waynesboro, N.C. man was recently "brought down" by police tasers as he attempted to flee from police on a felony warrant for non-payment of child support. He is currently being held with no bond.777968_alcatraz.jpg

Some people will employ any means possible to avoid their child support obligations. Outside of Atlanta, a former government employee had his paychecks altered in order to avoid showing an increase in his income, which would ultimately lead to paying a smaller amount of child support.

This indiscretion on his part has ultimately landed him with a felony indictment for forgery, a first degree felony. Read the complete story about Freddie Ashmon, Jr.

The easiest way to not run afoul with the law is to pay your child support.

August 19, 2012

Modifying your child support obligation

A modification of child support, or alimony as well, is based upon an unforseen, involuntary, permanent and substantial change in circumstances. Florida statute 61.14 provides the statutory basis for a modification of child support and alimony.

If the court, after entertaining a petition for modification of support, either upward or downward, finds that there was a change in circumstances, or the financial position of either party has changed, the court can enter an order, retroactive to the date of filing the petition, granting the modification.

Often times it takes a considerable amount of time to have a matter scheduled for hearing before the court. The length of time varies between the particular judge and the courthouse in which the petition is pending.
1380007_one_dollar.jpg
This is the rational behind the rule that petitions , if granted, are retroactive back to the date of filing. There is one important exception to this rule. If a parent seeks an upward modification of child support when the obligor is not exercising the agreed upon time sharing, the modification of that particular support obligation is retroactive to the date when the obligor first stopped adhering to the agreed upon time sharing schedule.

Terrell Owens, a well known player in the NFL
, was recently seeking a reduction of his child support obligations. His claim was based upon his current state of financial affairs. His efforts to reduce his support obligations would most likely have been successful, but for the fact that he most recently signed a new contract with the Seattle Seahawks for a reported sum of $1,000,000.00.

The case of Terrell Owens illustrates the point well. In order to obtain financial relief, there must be a certain degree of permanency in the change of one's financial picture, not merely a temporary one.

If you have circumstances that you believe would warrant either an increase or decrease in your support obligations, you can call the law office of Alan R. Burton anytime. With over thirty years of experience in family law matters, Mr. Burton is well qualified to assist you with your questions. He maintains offices in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Feel free to call him today. He will be available to discuss your case.


August 7, 2012

Collecting child support is not always a simple matter

The payment and collection of child support in Florida as well as around the country is not always an easy process. Its surprising to see all the stories in the media today, which deal with individuals in the "public eye" who are not paying their child support.

For example, the gold medal champion, Gabby Douglas, made a recent announcement at the Olympics, that her father was a "deadbeat dad",who neglected his responsibilities. This story was recently reported in the New York Post.

This is just one of the many stories I have come across this week, all of which deal with either celebrities or prominent sports figures who, for one reason or another, seem intent on neglecting their most important resources...their children.
1395110_crying_boy.jpg
Former NFL star Warren Sapp reportedly filed bankruptcy recently, where it was disclosed by Mail Online that he owed substantial child support to four different women.

We are all familiar with the Michael Jackson story, but are not as familiar with all of the collateral stories, until now. Randy Jackson is embroiled in litigation with his family over the Michael Jackson estate. It may not be a coincident that he allegedly owes over $500,000.00 in back child support.

These figures obviously represent the accumulation of child support arrears, over an extended period of time. If you are the recipient of child support, the lesson to be learned here is to act fast. Don't sit back waiting for a miracle......be proactive, and "nip the problem in the bud" before it becomes an impossible situation to ever rectify.

As an attorney with an active divorce practice in Boca Raton, Florida, and all surrounding areas, including Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, and Fort Lauderdale, with over thirty years of experience, I can implement a strategy for collecting child support payments which are due and collecting child support arrears.

Don't let this problem escalate to astronomical numbers and act today!

August 4, 2012

Is the payment of child support voluntary?

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to discuss child support issues with many parents. A frequent question that often arises is whether one parent has the right to waive the receipt of child support from the other parent?

The answer to this question is simple, NO! There are scores of cases in Florida which clearly state that the entitlement to child support is a right that belongs to the child, not to the parent, and the parent has absolutely no right to waive receipt of those funds.

What about the situation when a father proclaims his desire not to have any part in the child's life, in exchange for a release of his child support obligation. Will this work to release the father from his obligation? Again, the same answer, NO.

I recently read an article dealing with individuals in the "public eye," which dealt with this very issue of waiving the obligation to pay child support, and I find it contrary to law. This of course would be the story of Kate and Jon, which is all over the internet. Kate has publicly indicated that she has released Jon from his child support obligation. It was reported in a story in the Star magazine. There will be more to this story in the future. Most likely an agreement is in place for a temporary abatement of support, but certainly not the total eradication of support for all those kids. Stay tuned.

The payment of child support is not discretionary, it is mandatory. The payment of child support is a joint obligation of both parents. The Florida Child Support Guidelines are based upon this concept, so that each parent bears their proportionate share of the expense to raise their children.

Further information on this subject, as well as on other issues, can be found on my website at www.alanburtonlaw.com. With over 30 years of experience, I am well qualified to answer and address any and all of your concerns with family law issues of any kind, including divorce, annulment, paternity and child support issues.

August 2, 2012

August is Child Support Awareness Month

Child support is designed to cover the basic necessities of life for a minor child, such as food, clothing and shelter.

Every state has "Child Support Guidelines in place, and Florida is not excluded. Florida Statute 61.30 deals with the support of minor children, and includes the child support guidelines adopted by the Florida legislature.

A compilation of various statistics regarding child support was recently reported in an article found at Ebony.com. As an example, the story indicates that child support is paid primarily by men, 85% to be precise. This is indicative of the mother generally being responsible for raising the children.

There are a host of penalties that one could suffer by not paying child support, including wage garnishments, seizures of property, loss of driving privileges, and jail time.

Take a moment to check out the article, with its other statistical information. It i informative.

August 1, 2012

No one is exempt from paying child support

Is anyone exempt from paying child support? The answer is clearly NO. Each parent has a responsibility to support their children, not just one parent.1380007_one_dollar.jpg

This is even true if one parent is wealthy, and the other parent is down and out. Remember the television show, Jon & Kate plus 8? This situation exemplifies the example that both parents owe a duty of support.

In a recent news story published in "RealityTea" about child support, Jon Gosselin confessed that he was having difficulty sustaining himself, let alone all of his children.

Keep following this story. Mr. Gosselin will soon learn that regardless of the fact that his ex-wife has money or not, he has a responsibility to his children as well. Remember, "it takes two to tango."

August 1, 2012

Not paying child support may be hazardous to your freedom

Child support payments for a child in Florida is an extremely protected right. The state of Florida has imposed significant penalties against those who choose not to pay child support, including the loss of driving privileges, the loss of professional and other business licenses, and the loss of freedom..

Prior to the imposition of penalties for non payment of child support, the court must conduct an evidentiary hearing, and provide the non paying parent with an opportunity to explain why the support is not being paid. If the court determines that the non payment has in fact been willful, the parent will be found in contempt, and the next step for the court to consider becomes the penalties to be imposed.

If a determination is made by the court that the non paying parent has either cash or other assets available to pay towards the support owed, that then becomes the "purge payment". The purge payment is the amount necessary to be released from jail, if the judge determines that is the appropriate sanction.

Loss of driving privileges is also possible, until such time as child support becomes current.

An experienced divorce lawyer, who frequently deals with child support, can work with you on these most important issues. It is often times best to deal with non payment of child support issues early on as these matters tend to "snowball" rapidly.

Florida Statute 61.30 governs the provisions and amounts of child support to be paid, based upon the combined earnings of the parents.

July 14, 2012

Remedies for non payment of child support

The payment and collection of child support in the state of Florida often times can become a frustrating process. On the surface, the receipt of child support payments should be a straightforward matter.

The most effective remedy for the collection of child support is to invoke the contempt powers of the court. What exactly do we mean by invoking this process in the court system?

Initially there must be a court order which directs the obligor to pay a certain amount of child support, usually on a monthly basis. If the support payments become delinquent, the recipient has the right to bring the obligor (payor) before the judge, and to seek incarceration.

Having someone put in jail for non payment of support is not the easiest thing to do. First, the recipient of the child support, or alimony, must first prove to the court that the payor had the present ability to pay the court ordered support, and that the payor willfully refused to pay his child support or alimony.

Once this step is proven, you then need to demonstrate to the court that the person responsible for the payment of child support or alimony has the ability to either pay the full amount of the delinquency or a portion thereof. Once that amount has been established, it becomes the "purge" payment, and the payor can be sent off to jail until he pays the purge amount.

More often than not, the judge will usually give the payor a few days or up to a week to pay the purge amount, and if it isn't paid within the required time, then jail would be appropriate.

The payor would remain in jail until such time as the purge is paid.

A simple straightforward analysis of this process is found in the case of Ramirez v. Ramirez, 4D11-3818 (April 4, 2012).

May 28, 2012

The importance of filing a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet

Calculating the proper amount of child support requires more than simply ascertaining the appropriate net monthly incomes of the parties. A Child Support Guidelines Worksheet must be filed in the particular proceeding. There is no discretion with the court in this regard. Failure to file the worksheet is reversible error.

This mandate is found in Fla. Fam. L. R. P. 12.285(j). ('If the case involves child support, the parties shall file with the court at or prior to a hearing to establish or modify child support a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet...This requirement cannot be waived by the parties").

This requirement was further set forth in the case of Palewsky v. Dept. of Revenue, 61 So.3d 1227 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2011).

March 26, 2012

What are the rules for imputing income to a party?

Support awards in a family law case are generally made based upon the actual income of the parties involved in the proceeding.

665434_dollarsign.jpgHowever, often times it becomes necessary to impute income to either the husband or the wife, if either of them are underemployed or intentionally making themselves unemployed.

Who has the burden of proof when it comes to imputing income in situations like this; the husband, the wife, or the judge?

The answer is simple. The individual who seeks to impute income to the other spouse has the burden of proof. He or she must prove to the court by way of competent and substantial evidence that there is a sufficient basis to impute income to the other.

In the case of Mudafort v. Lee, 62 So 3d 1196 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011), the court was called upon to make a determination regarding the imputation of income. Although there was no dispute that the wife had voluntarily quit her job, since she was relocating, the question in this case was whether or not she was under employed in her new job.

In applying the particular facts as set forth in this cae, the court stated that the husband did not meet his burden to entitle him to impute income to his wife.

March 25, 2012

Modification of Child Support Awards

Child support awards in Florida are always subject to modification, based upon many different reasons. In connection with a proceeding for the modification of child support, the question of retroactive support becomes important.

In other words, if an increase in child support may be appropriate, at what point in time does that increase become effective? Is the increase effective as of the date the circumstances arose, which entitles the recipient to receive more support, or does the increase start from the date of the award by the judge, or some other date? If you , as the payor, are seeking a reduction in the payment of child support, what date does that reduction occur?

The answer to that question was clearly provided for in the case of Webber v. Webber, 56 So3d 822 (Fla. 5th DCA 2011). The court in the Webber case made it clear that any modification of child support cannot be imposed on an individual prior to the date that a petition for modification is filed.

The moral of the story is that if you believe that you are entitled to either an increase in child support, or a decrease, don't wait to file. If you delay in filing, you will lose out on the benefits that you are seeking.

March 25, 2012

Life Insurance to secure child support obligation

Florida law does in fact require an obligor to either acquire or maintain life insurance in order to secure a child support obligation. This is found in Florida Statute 61.13(1)(c).

What does this mean exactly? A judge does not have the discretion to order any amount he or she pleases. The amount of life insurance required will vary from case to case. The amount required should be in a sufficient amount to cover the remaining outstanding obligation.

A requirement to carry a policy in the amount of $100,000.00 may very well be excessive if there is one 17 year old child, and the monthly child support obligation is $500.00 per month. There simply must be a correlation between the outstanding amount owed and the benefits payable under the life insurance policy.

January 5, 2011

Civil contempt in divorce proceedings for non payment of child support

sad boy desktop.jpgFailing to pay a court ordered child support obligation can land the non complying parent in jail. However, there are certain procedures that must be followed before incarceration can occur.

An order of civil contempt for failure to pay child support requires findings of wilful failure to pay ordered amounts. If incarceration is to be orderd as a result of finding wilful contempt, the court must then make the affirmative finding that the contemnor possessses the present ability to comply with the purge. Miller v. Murrah, 14 So.3d 1019 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009); Brown v. Brown, 658 So.2d 627 (Fla. 5th DCA 1995).

The key too these cases requires that an order be in writing, and that these findings must be clearly set forth in the order. Alan R. Burton, Esq. is well qualified to assist you in preparation of appropriate orders for this purpose.

Todd Alan Grant was successful in securing his release from custody after having been jailed for non-payment of support. In his case, there was never a written order entered, and he was promptly released. Grant v. Department of Revenue on behalf of Heather R. Kopp, 27 So.3d 190 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010).

Rafael Carbonell had much the same luck as Mr. Grant. He was also incarcerated for non-payment of support, but upon filing an appeal, he was also promptly released. The order which had him jailed failed to make the specific affirmative finding that he had the present ability to comply with the purge amount as set by the court. Carbonell v. Department of Revenue on Behalf of Deydry Capella, 30 So.3d 664 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010).

If in fact there is wilful noncompliance with a child support order, it is incumbent upon the trial judge to be meticulous in his or her findings. The order directing incarceration must be carefully drafted if it is to withstand any subsequent attack.

December 31, 2010

Temporary support....how much is really needed?

In a case recently decided, a wife was awarded an astounding sum of $75,000.00 per month for temporary support for herself and her child. Stanton v. Stanton, 2D10-919 (2010).

The appellate court said this amount simply could not stand, as the amount was not supported by competent substantial evidence.

The trial court should consider the standard of living in addition to the need of one spouse and the other spouse's ability to pay. de Gutierrez v. Gutierrez, 19 So.3d 1110, 1113 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009).

Here, in this case, the wife had testified that her monthly expenses totaled $44,029, including those of her child. Her financial affidavit also indicated her monthly expenses to total $44,029. It was clear to the appellate court that the trial judge had erred in making an award of $75,000 per month for the wife when the evidence reflected that the wife's needs were $44,029. Also CLICK HERE to visit my site for the most updated information on the new alimony laws in Florida.

The appellate court gave further instructions to the trial court that the award to the wife must be based upon her needs, and should not attempt "to fund the enjoyment of every
little luxury enjoyed before divorce." Levine v. Levine, 964 So.2d 741, 742-43 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007).

The purpose of alimony is to provide for the less wealthy spouse above bare subsistence levels, not to fund the enjoyment of every little luxury enjoyed before divorce. "Fixing alimony at a profligate standard of living is to turn alimony into a lottery. That is one reason why the standard of living during marriage is not a super factor trumping all other factors in awarding alimony. Jaffy v. Jaffy, 965 So.2d 825, 828 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007).
jackpot machine desktop.jpg
Although the sum of $44,029, awarded to the wife on a monthly basis was certainly not a nominal amount, this case still clearly points out that the standard for temporary relief is clearly the needs of the requesting spouse versus the ability of the other spouse to meet those needs.

December 25, 2010

Payment for private school tuition.........mandatory?

books desktop.jpgThe question of payment for private school tuition comes up frequently during the divorce process. Can this obligation be continued after the divorce, so that the child can continue on with his or her private school enrollment?

The answer to this question depends upon the circumstances existing during the marriage.

In Wilson v. Wilson, 559 So.2d 698, 700 (Fla. 1st DC 1990), it was stated that the court may order a non custodial parent to pay for private education expense if it finds that" the parent has the ability to pay for private school" and the "expenses are in accordance with the family's customary standard of living and are in the child's best interest."

This legal premise was clearly set forth in Luskin v. Luskin, 492 So.2d 783 (Fla. 4th DCA 1986). In Luskin, the trial court denied the wife's request to compel the husband to pay for the children's private school tuition and camp expenses. On appeal, the decision was reversed. The appellate court held that the trial court had applied the wrong legal standard to the payment of these expenses. The proper standard, as stated by the court, is a balancing of "needs as fixed by the parties' standard of living, on the one hand, and ability to pay, on the other."

In Luskin, the husband had the ability to pay private school tuition and summer camp costs, and these expenses were in accordance with the family's customary standard of living and were in the children's best interest. Accordingly, the court could order these payments as further support for the children.

However, if payment for tuition for private school, or payment for camp is to be sought, it is very important that the person requesting these payments clearly state so in his or her respective pleadings. Failure to formally plead such a request, even if it is within the customary budget and best interests of the children, will in fact result in a denial of that obligation being paid. In other words, if you don't ask for something, you will not be entitled to reecive it. See Gelman v. Gelman, 24 So.3d 1281 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010).