Generally speaking, under the child support guidelines, the more overnights a parent spends with their child or children, the less child support is paid. The child support guidelines mandate that the trial court make this adjustment. Many litigants who are fighting child support issues are aware of this and understand it. However, what if your Marital Settlement Agreement or Parenting Plan, which has earlier been incorporated into your Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, says that you have 18% overnights with the children, but in reality you have actually been exercising 40% overnights with the children, with the approval and understanding of your former spouse? Shouldn’t you be entitled to a reduction in your child support? Under a very recent amendment to the statute, you do get such a reduction.
Until very recently, the parent discussed above was “out of luck”, and could not obtain a reduction in child support. In order to obtain a reduction in child support based upon overnights, pursuant to the prior version of 61.30(11)(b), Florida Statutes, the schedule of overnights had to be approved by the Court and Court Ordered. This meant that only a “court authorized” time-sharing schedule could be the basis for the downward adjustment. However, a recent change in the child support statute gives relief for those who can’t, or are unwilling to, memorialize their timesharing arrangement through Court Order.
Effective May 12, 2014, 61.30(11)(b), Florida Statutes, has been amended, allowing the Court to use either “a court-ordered time-sharing schedule or time-sharing arrangement exercised by agreement of the parties”, when calculating child support. This amendment, in effect, overruled the decision of Department of Revenue o/b/o Sherman v. Daly, 74 So. 3d 165 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011), which earlier held that only a “court-authorized” time-sharing schedule could be the basis for the child support adjustment required by 61.30(11)(b) (2010), Florida Statutes. Sometimes parents of lesser means cannot afford to hire a lawyer to formalize their timesharing agreements and/or do not have the finances to file a lawsuit to have the Court approve their “in fact” arrangement, yet they continued to be burdened with more child support, even though they were spending substantial time with their children. This recent amendment, outlined above, brings the purpose of the statute more in line with what usually occurs in “real life situations” and allows those who need a “break” to actually get it.
Keeping an eye on the recent decisions from the Florida’s courts ensures that legal counsel is aware of the trends and changes and the effects it may have on your case is important. The hiring of competent legal counsel is crucial when it comes to your case and the factors involved. The expert family law attorneys at Sidweber and Weintraub, P.A. are specialists in dealing with family law issues, and they can advise you on what specific relief can be considered and requested in your case.
For more information on issues pertaining to Florida family law, divorce, property distribution, child support, timesharing/custody and alimony cases, in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, please call a Board Certified Attorney at Sidweber and Weintraub, P.A., for a consultation.