When parents split up and share custody of their children, the courts will often determine that the non-custodial parent is responsible for paying child support to the custodial parent for the care and support of the children. In Florida and elsewhere, this amount is based upon the parent’s income. There are instances in which a parent will attempt to lower his or her monthly child support payments on the basis of a change in income, often following the loss of employment. This was the case in a recent hearing in which one state’s former Agriculture Commissioner asked the court to consider a reduction in his required child support payments.
The former commissioner requested that the court reduce his $1,227 monthly child support payments due to his ongoing recovery from a hip replacement surgery, as well as his stated difficulty in finding work following the end of his term as Agriculture Commissioner. He argued that the payment amount was unfair since the calculations were based upon his former annual salary of $110,000. However, his recent attempt at running for the state’s lieutenant governor’s position failed, leaving him without a job. He also claims his recent surgery has hindered his ability to find work.
However, the ruling judge made a finding that the man was “voluntarily unemployed” and could not conclude that he was diligently searching for regular work. This led the judge to reject the father’s request to reduce his monthly child support payments. As a result, the former commissioner will have to continue paying $1,227 per month in order to help support his three sons. However, the judge did rule that the father will not have to make payments during the two months required for him to recover from surgery.
When it comes to child support, Florida courts will place the needs of children above those of the parents, and will make determinations concerning child support very carefully. In cases where a reduction is sought, if the judge believes the parent asking for reduction is purposely remaining unemployed, then the request will often be denied. For that reason, any parent who wishes to approach the court to ask for a payment reduction should avail him or herself of full knowledge of child support law and courtroom procedures before pressing forward. Having a fully documented argument for why the payments should be reduced is essential to obtaining a favorable outcome.