Bresky Law Wins Reversal of Order Basing Father’s Child Support Obligation on Abnormally High Income Year
Rudnick v. Harman, Case No. 4D13-1359 & 4D13-1364 (Fla. 4th DCA, January 28, 2015)*
Bresky Law recently obtained the reversal of a trial court order that erroneously based our client’s child support obligation on one year of abnormally high income. The order was entered following proceedings in family court to modify child support and timesharing. The evidence at trial showed that our client’s income in 2012 had more than doubled from the previous two years. However, the evidence also showed that the income spike was attributable to the specific nature of the client’s business such that it would not be regular and recurring. Our client argued that the trial court should consider a portion of his 2012 income as non-recurring or use an averaging approach. Instead, the trial court rendered an order setting the 2012 income as our client’s income for purposes of child support going forward.
On appeal to the Fourth DCA, we argued that the trial court should have treated our client’s additional income similar to a bonus, and that bonuses are not considered for purposes of child support unless shown to be regular and recurring. We also argued that the mere fact that the income came from our client’s business did not mean that the income could not be treated as non-recurring.
The Fourth DCA initially affirmed the trial court’s decision. However, we filed a motion for rehearing urging the court to consider matters that the court might have overlooked. The court granted our motion for rehearing in part and reversed the trial court’s determination. The Fourth DCA agreed that the trial court erred in basing our client’s child support obligation strictly on his 2012 income. The appellate court found persuasive its prior case law pertaining to bonuses, and the requirement that additional income be regular and continuous before it can be included in a party’s income for purposes of child support. The Fourth DCA reversed and remanded for the trial court to make additional findings on that issue. This appellate court decision in favor of our client prevents the trial court from basing his income for child support purposes upon one “fluke” year of elevated income.
* The decision is not final until disposition of any timely filed motions for rehearing.