Florida Child Support: Special Considerations for Cases Involving a High-Income Parent
Child support is an issue in many divorce and child custody cases. If you have minor children and you are getting divorced, or if you are going through a custody dispute, you need to understand how child support works. Your children must always be properly financially supported. At the same time, it is important that neither parent is stuck with an unfair share of the child-related financial burden. Child support dispute cases always have the potential to become highly contentious. This is particularly true if the case involves a high-income parent. In these type of disputes, there are some special considerations that may need to be examined. If you are involved in a child support dispute, and you or the other parent has a high-income, you should consult with an experienced Orlando child support attorney as soon as possible.
There is a Presumption in Favor of Awards that Conform to Florida Child Support Guidelines
As a general rule, courts will look to craft a child support award that is fully consistent with the Florida family law statutes. However, Florida courts have also acknowledged that the state’s general child support guidelines may be inadequate for cases involving high-income parents. While courts do start with a presumption that the guidelines will provide the appropriate award, courts will allow for deviation from the guideline if good cause can be demonstrated. After all, the primary goal of child support is to ensure that the financial needs of children are covered. Courts do not wish to allow child support awards to be used to produce a windfall for the other parent.
A Case Study: Finley v. Scott
In 1997, the case of Finley v. Scott set forth the ‘good fortune test’. In the case, Mr. Scott, a professional basketball player for the Orlando Magic, had an annual salary that exceed $3 million. He also had a child, of which the other parent, Ms. Finley, obtained primary custody. A dispute arose over the proper amount of monthly child support that was owed. Under the Florida standard guidelines, approximately $10,000 per month in child support would have been due. However, strictly considering the needs of the child, only $2,000 per month would have been required. In the end, the court decided to split the difference. They awarded $2,000 for the child’s needs and an additional $3,000 because of the high income involved in the dispute. Essentially, the case empowered Florida courts to take a holistic view of high-income child support cases. Courts may deviate from the general guidelines to prevent a windfall, but they may also award payments in excess of the needs of the child. Courts do this so that they can promote an appropriate lifestyle for the child given the collective financial means of his or her parents.
Contact Our Orlando Office Today
At the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., our experienced family law team is dedicated to protecting the best interests of you and your children. If you have any questions pertaining to child custody, child support or child time-sharing arrangements, please call our Orlando office today to schedule a fully confidential review of your case. Our firm represents families throughout Central Florida.