Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Child Support

When circumstances change after a final judgment is entered, either party may be able to petition for modification of the order. When child support payments are at issue, the court must determine whether or not there has been a substantial change in circumstances which was not contemplated at the time the final judgment was entered. In the case Johansson v. Johansson, 4D18-2112 (Fla. 4th DCA May 1, 2019), the former husband appealed an order denying his petition to decrease child support.

The former husband was originally ordered to pay bridge-the-gap alimony to the former wife and child support. At that time, the court found the former wife was employed during the marriage and was fully employable thereafter. Subsequently, when the former husband’s income decreased, he petitioned for modification of child support based on his change in income and the former wife’s employment. At a hearing, a general magistrate concluded that because the former husband was no longer paying alimony, his net income had increased, and it found the former wife was employed part-time. Therefore, the court concluded there was no substantial change in circumstances. No findings were made regarding the former husband’s income or the former wife’s underemployment.

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court’s ruling, holding “Pursuant to section 61.30(1)(b), a substantial change in circumstance may result from a sufficiently large change in the guidelines support amount. Without the determination of the income of each party, it is unknown whether that threshold was reached in this case. Furthermore, section 61.30 requires the court to impute income to a voluntarily unemployed or underemployed parent, unless the court finds that the parent cannot work due to circumstances beyond the parent's control. Otherwise, income must be imputed in accordance with the statute and the fundamental obligation of each parent to support their children. § 61.29(1), Fla. Stat. The court made no findings on this issue. As the trial court did not follow the dictates of section 61.30, we reverse and remand for the trial court to make the findings and calculations necessary to properly calculate the child support guideline amount and then to determine whether modification should be granted or denied after the appropriate calculations are made.”

Arriving at an equitable child support calculation in Florida is best accomplished with the help of a Miami child support lawyer. Schedule your consultation to go over your specific case and receive advice on the best way to proceed.