Articles Posted in Child Support

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Supplemental security income or as more commonly known as a SSI  benefits, are in fact included in your income when it comes time to calculating child support in Florida.

Florida is, however, in the minority when it comes to utilizing SSI benefits for child support calculations.  Most states exempt this type of income from an individual’s gross income when it comes time to calculating their gross income.

In Florida, child support is calculated by utilizing a formula which includes the gross income of each party from all possible sources.  Florida Statute 61.30(2) provides a non-exclusive, detailed list of items that are included in a person’s gross income in order to arrive at an accurate amount of child support that is to be paid in any particular case.

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The amount of child support paid has a direct correlation to the number of overnights that the child spends with each parent.  Therefore, child support is not just based on the respective incomes of the parents, but must also include the number of overnights that the child spends with each of the parents.

When you are seeking review of an inaccurate calculation for child support, generally the lack of having a transcript of the of the record from the trial court will be fatal to your review of any errors.  However, child support is a whole different matter, separate and apart from review of alimony or equitable distribution errors.  The reason for this is that child support is not a requirement imposed by one parent on the other, rather it is a dual obligation imposed on the parents by the State of Florida.  See Quinn v. Quinn, 169 So3rd 268 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2015).

The right of child support is a right that belongs to the child, and the parents do not have the right to waive the amount of the child’s support.

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Child support, under Florida law, is initially established by applying the Florida child support guidelines.  The child support guidelines are applied to not only a final hearing in a dissolution of marriage action, but are also applicable in temporary support proceedings

Florida Statute 61.30(1)(a) specifically states that the child support guideline amount is utilized to establish the amount of child support,  whether in a temporary or permanent proceeding.

When the court is assigned the task of determining the amount of child support that is going to be paid, a trial court is permitted to deviate from the amount of child support as provided for in the guideline amount, based on a myriad of different factors, as noted in Florida Statute 61.30(1)(a)(11).  There are 11 separate factors itemized under this statute which provide for different scenarios for deviating from the child support guidelines.  Take a few moments to read through that section to see if any of the listed factors will provide you with a basis to seek additional child support over and above the amount as set forth under the child support guidelines.

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Bonus income can be paid on a regular and routine basis, or it could be paid for an isolated event.

The law is clear however, that in order to include bonus income in a child support calculation, there must be evidence that the bonus is regular and continuous before it can be included in a party’s income for purposes of calculating child support.

In Rudnick v. Rudnick, 162 So 3rd 116 (Florida 4th DCA 2015), the husband experienced a substantial spike and his income for the year of his divorce.  He testified that he was a political consultant, who experienced an unusually high level of income in the year 2012 due to the presidential election that year.

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An adoption subsidy paid by the State of Florida to the parents of special needs children may not be considered as a credit against the spouse’s child support obligation.

The Legislature has made adoption assistance, including financial aid, available to prospective adoptive parents who adopt a child with special needs through the state’s foster care system.

The purpose of the adoption subsidy is to encourage individuals to adopt special-needs children by assisting the parents with the extra care a special needs child requires.

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Child support is calculated initially by adding together each of the parties respective gross incomes.  What can you do if one of the parties is out of work and unemployed?  Do you have the right to impute income to the unemployed parent?

Florida law authorizes a court to impute monthly income to a voluntarily unemployed parent.  Florida Statute 61.30(2)(b) authorizes the imputation of income.

A trial court must engage in a two-step process when they are asked to impute income to an unemployed parent. First, the court must conclude that the termination of income was voluntary.  An example of voluntary employment occurs when you are terminated from your employment based on your own actions or misconduct.  See the case of Heard v. Perales ( Florida 4th DCA 2015) for a further discussion on this topic.

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It is understandable that some spouses who are divorcing are not necessarily in the mindset to cooperate with one another. After all, fighting and disagreements have likely played a role in the decision to end their marriage. However, refusal to come to an agreement regarding one or more issues in a divorce can cause serious delays and can increase the cost of a divorce.

Before a court will grant your divorce, you and your spouse must settle numerous issues including:

  • Property and debt division;
  • Child support;
  • Time-sharing and visitation;
  • Parenting plans;
  • Alimony.

If any one of those issues cannot be settled out of court, the divorce can be delayed as the court will have to decide for you. You and your spouse will have to present evidence to support your arguments for how you want to resolve the issue at trial and the judge will rule on the matter.

A recent divorce case demonstrates just how much a divorce case can be affected by adversarial disputes instead of cooperation. After 25 years of marriage, the wife of the founder of Cancer Treatment Centers for America filed for divorce. The filing occurred in 2009 and the case is still dragging on due to several disagreements regarding a prenuptial agreement, custody, and division of their millions of dollars in assets. The case has involved numerous hearings, appellate hearings, changes of lawyers, contempt orders, and other complications, and is now finally going to trial over asset and property division. In the meantime, both spouses have likely spent an enormous amount of money, stress, and time dealing with the divorce proceedings and have been unable to remarry since their marriage is not yet dissolved after more than six years. Continue reading

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Divorce can be an uncertain or stressful situation for anyone. After all, many facets of your life from your living arrangements to your finances to your relationship with your children will likely change. While these changes may be difficult for anyone, they can be particularly difficult and stressful for a parent who has decided to stop working to stay home and care for the children and the household.

Being a stay-at-home parent is never easy, as there is a great amount of responsibility involved in constantly caring for small children on a daily basis. In addition, a stay-at-home parent is often tasked with a large percentage of cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other household chores. Such contributions can be extremely valuable for a household, especially if it eliminates the need for costly child care, housekeepers, or other services. In addition, a stay at home parent agrees to put his or her own educational or professional goals on hold for the greater good of the family.

Unfortunately, when it comes time for a divorce, the breadwinner of the family tends to focus on his or her financial contributions and not appreciate the sacrifices the stay-at-home parent has made. Because they have contributed more financially, they often believe they deserve more financially, as well. Luckily, family courts generally take the non-financial contributions of stay-at-home parents into considerations when making determinations regarding alimony and other financial support in a divorce. However, it is always wise for stay at home parents to do the following and more to protect their rights: Continue reading

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The end of a long-term relationship can be emotionally difficult and can make people act in ways that may be out of character. Sometimes, people who are getting a divorce feel a newfound sense of freedom that allows them to pursue new social or romantic options. In other instances, a divorce can cause individuals to engage in emotional coping mechanisms such as substance abuse or overspending. While these are natural and human reactions to the end of a relationship, sharing this type of behavior on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram could have a negative effect on the way that certain issues in your divorce are resolved. Some of the ways that social media posts could affect your divorce are detailed below.

Sharing on Social Media Could Affect Child Custody Determinations

Under Florida Law, the guiding principle that courts must follow when making child custody determinations is the “best interests of the child.” In figuring out what type of custody arrangement is in a child’s best interests, courts may consider any factor that they deem relevant. For this reason, social media posts that indicate that a person is engaging in behavior that the court believes could affect a person’s ability to be an effective parent could potentially be introduced as evidence in cases in which child custody is disputed. Continue reading

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The legal system recognizes that children are generally incapable of adequately supporting themselves and, therefore, parents are required to provide financial support. In cases in which two parents are no longer together, one parent generally has the obligation to pay regular child support to the other parent. When a child reaches the age of 18, he or she is considered an adult and child support obligations generally cease.

There are two important exceptions under Florida law to the rule that child support terminates on the child’s 18th birthday and these exceptions are as follows:

  • The child is 18, lives at home, attends high school, and there is reasonable expectation that the child will graduate before their 19th birthday; or
  • The child is over 18 but remains dependent on their parents because of mental or physical incapacity that started when they were younger than 18.

The second exception is important for any parents of children who are either born with a disabling condition, develop a condition during childhood, or who sustained a catastrophic injury that left them unable to care for themselves. Continue reading