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Mother Appeals Order to Modify a Child Support Petition Granted to Father


The Florida courts will only grant modifications to child support payments when the individual who is petitioning the court for the modification can prove that a substantial change has occurred to warrant such a modification. Typically, “substantial changes” include changes to an individual’s income or when the children start spending more time with the paying parent. In one case, Sadeh v. Calenzani, the mother was paying child support to the father. The father asked the circuit court to increase the amount of child support he was getting. The trial court agreed with the father and awarded him more child support. The mother appealed the ruling filing a pro se petition and asking the court to vacate the modification order. Pro se means that she was not represented by an attorney and filed the petition herself. In this case, that was a bad decision. The appeals court would not hear her arguments for failure to properly provide the right kind of evidence to the court. Below, we’ll look at the decision.

Background of the case 

In this case, the trial court awarded the father a modification of child support that increased the amount of support he was receiving. The mother appealed the modification based on two grounds. First, the mother argued that the trial court’s “imputation of income” was false. In other words, the court rendered a decision based on an inaccurate estimate of how much income the mother earned. The second ground contended that the trial court did not consider the fact that the child was spending overnights with the mother. The mother argued that the trial court abused its discretion when awarding the modification of child support.

As far as the imputation of income, a trial court must provide sufficient factual findings in the final judgment regarding child support and alimony awards. If the trial court does not include specific findings in the final judgment, the record must reveal substantial evidence to support the trial court’s decision. In this case, the trial court did not include specific findings as to the imputation of income in its order. However, the mother had not filed an updated financial affidavit since 2019. Further, the mother provided no evidence that she had overnights with the child during the previous year in question.

On appeal, the mother did not dispute that she had failed to file an updated financial affidavit and she failed to directly address whether or not she provided evidence to support her contention that she spent overnights with the child. Instead, the mother attempted to provide the court with evidence in the form of attachments to her Initial Brief, which were not included in the record. An appeals court will not consider new evidence; they only review whether or not the trial court abused its discretion when modifying the order. Hence, the appeals court was unable to review the mother’s arguments and denied her appeal.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Divorce Lawyer Today 

When filing an appeal, it’s always best to have a qualified Tampa family law attorney prepare it for you. Westchase Law, P.A. can help you through the process of filing a proper appeal. Call our office today to schedule an appointment and learn more about how we can help.

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