Articles Posted in Child Support

Child Support

A Court is not bound by an agreement between the parties concerning child support. “It is undisputed, and should be indisputable, that a trial court’s responsibility to the child cannot be abdicated to any parent, any expert. That heavy responsibility mandates that a court is not bound by any agreement between parents, nor by the opinions of any experts or group of experts.” Lane v. Lane, 599 So. 2d 218, 219 (Fla. 4th DCA 992); see Feliciano v. Feliciano, 674 So. 2d 937 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996) (confirming that a trial court is not bound by an agreement regarding child support, custody, and visitation where it determines that it is not in the best interests of the children). As noted by the reviewing court in Jones v. Jones, 674 So. 2d 770, 774 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996), the “best interests of the children are to govern the custody decision, regardless of any stipulation between the parties.” Sparks v. Sparks. 

The income of the parents, not the income of the caregiver, is to be used when calculating child support “Thus, it is evident that the income of the parents-not the income of the caregiver-is to be used when calculating the child support guidelines under chapter 409.” Dep’t of Revenue o/b/o Roberson v. Chaney.

Enforcement of contractual Obligation to Pay College Expenses in Florida

Contempt is not available to enforce an obligation to pay college expenses. “Where a party is obligated to pay his adult child’s college expenses pursuant to a marital settlement agreement, the obligation “is not child support, but rather a contractual obligation arising from the marital settlement agreement” Sutton v. Sutton, 701 So. 2d 370, 372 (Fla. 2d DCA 1997) (emphasis added). Thus, contempt is not available to enforce the parties’ contractual obligation to pay their adult son’s college expenses. Nicoletti v. Nicoletti, 901 So. 2d 290, 292 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005)” Riera v. Riera 

Child Support – Life Insurance in Florida

A court cannot order a party to maintain life insurance without a request from one of the parties. “It is true that section 61.13(1)(c),Florida Statutes (2010), provides that the court may order a party to maintain life insurance to protect an award of child support. But this court has held that a trial court does not have the authority to require a party to obtain life insurance in order to secure child support payments where such relief was not sought or litigated. See Williamitis v. Williamitis, 741 So. 2d 1176, 1177 (Fla. 2d DCA1999); cf. Broome v. Broome, 821So.2d406, 408 (Fla. 2d DCA 2002) (reversing requirement that Former Husband obtain life insurance to secure alimony because Former Wife did not request such relief).” Eisele v. Eisele 

Florida Rulings Child Support – Enforcement Hearing in Florida A party who is called by his opponent to testify on direct, has the right to testify during rebuttal as well. “Accordingly, we reverse the order finding appellant in contempt. Further, on remand we direct that a new evidentiary hearing be held because appellant, over objection, was prevented from presenting rebuttal evidence before the contempt order was entered. A person facing civil contempt is entitled to notice and an opportunity to be heard. See Bresch v. Henderson, 761 So. 2d 449, 451 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000). Although appellant had been called to the witness stand by appellee and testified on direct and cross-examination, he was not allowed to present his own case in rebuttal. By preventing appellant from presenting any rebuttal evidence, he was denied the opportunity to be heard. See Hipschman v. Cochran, 683 So. 2d 209, 211 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996)” Ramirez v. Ramirez

Child Support – Enforcement Hearing in Florida

Florida Rulings Child Support – Financial Affidavits in Florida Both parties must file financial affidavits for the trial court to award child support. “The appellant, Ari Palewsky, in this appeal from an order approving a magistrate’s report determining paternity and awarding child support, submits that, because the mother had not filed a financial affidavit, the trial court erred in determining the child support award. The appellee, the Department of Revenue, concedes that, in accordance with rule 12.285, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, both parties’ financial affidavits must be a part of the record, but argues that the absence of the mother’s affidavit was harmless error. Concluding that this error may not be considered harmless in this case, we reverse the support award and remand for an evidentiary hearing on the amount of support to be awarded.” Palewsky v. Dep’t of Revenue o/b/o Miller

Child Support – Financial Affidavits in Florida

Trial court is required to appoint a guardian ad litem to determine child’s best interests. “For example, if paternity is contested, the child’ s legitimacy is at issue, and the legal father has not had notice or an opportunity to be heard, the trial court is required to appoint a guardian ad litem and hear from the guardian and all the parties before proceeding. See Privette, 617 So. 2d at 308; Daniel, 695 So. 2d at 1255. At a minimum, the court must evaluate the best interests of the child. See Hebner v. Barry, 834 So. 2d 305 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003) (reversing trial court’s order that putative father undergo blood testing where trial court failed to make findings of fact in regard to whether the paternity test was in best interests of the child); Lander, 906 So. 2d at 1135 (remanding for a hearing in a case where the putative father brought the paternity action, and directing that the best interests of the child be considered).” Dep’t of Revenue o/b/o Garcia v. Iglesias

A putative father seeking to avoid a paternity test can raise the Privette presumption. A putative father seeking to avoid a blood test may raise the presumption in the context of his privacy interest. See Privette, 617 So. 2d at 309 n.8 (Fla. 1993) (‘By asserting a privacy interest the putative father necessarily puts in issue the child’s best interests, which substantially implicates the presumption. If the child’s best interests require maintaining the presumption, then the presumption will prevail because the State will lack a compelling interest justifying the blood test.’). Dep’t of Revenue o/b/o Garcia v. Iglesias

Department of Revenue in Florida

Department of Revenue (DOR) can file paternity action against both legal and biological fathers. “DOR’s position is that it may file a paternity action against both the legal father and biological father, and that the issues of the best interests of the child and the presumption of legitimacy should be dealt with during the proceedings. We agree.”

Paying Interest on Child Support In Florida – Circuit Court Ruling

A payor is required to pay interest on arrearages in child support.

“We also hold that it was error for the circuit court not to require the father to pay interest on the arrearage. See id. (‘The former wife is also entitled to collect prejudgment interest for all arrearages from the initial date that the former husband owed unpaid child support.’). Hernandez v. Hernandez