Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Child Support

When a parent is unemployed at the time Florida child support is calculated, the parent may be imputed to minimum wage or a level of income consistent with his or her earning history and capacity. However, there are some instances in which a parent is unable to work at all on a temporary basis. In such cases, the parties may agree to postpone the implementation of a child support order pending the parent’s employment. Such was the case in Paulette v. Rosetta, 5D18-264 (Fla. 5th DCA April 5, 2019).

The father was awarded primary time-sharing with the parties’ children. At the time this was agreed-to, the parties acknowledged that because the mother was not working, no child support obligation would be ordered at that time, but she agreed to advise the father within 10 days of her becoming employed. Subsequently, the father moved for modification of child support. Although the mother conceded in her opening statement at a hearing on the father’s petition for modification that she was employed and should be ordered to pay support, she disputed the amount the father was requesting. The trial court ultimately denied the father’s petition because it found that although there had been a change in circumstances regarding the mother’s employment, it was not unanticipated that she would become employed as stated in the parties’ agreement.

The father appealed, and the appellate court reversed the trial court’s ruling. For one, the appellate court reasoned Florida Statute Chp. 61.14(1)(a) and 61.13(1)(a)(2) allows a court to modify a child support agreement under these circumstances. Too, the appellate court held, “[T]he trial court's ruling is contrary to Florida law as declared by the supreme court case Miller v. Schou, which held that ‘an increase in ability to pay is itself sufficient to warrant an increase in child support’ and disapproved of any district court opinion ‘contrary to this holding.’” The appellate court further held, “Finally, the parties' MSA, when read in its entirety, obviously contemplated that upon becoming employed Mother would notify Father of that fact so her child support obligation could be established. It is difficult to understand how this could be read otherwise, especially in light of the fact that Mother agreed in her pleadings and in her opening statement to the court that since she was now employed, she would be obliged to pay child support.”

Schedule a consultation with a Miami child support lawyer to go over the specifics of your case. Florida guidelines worksheets can be prepared using the specific amounts unique to your case.