Tag: Child Support

Winning Child Support Modification

If ‘money talks’, actor Charlie Sheen is talking a lot about how he can no longer afford child support after being “blacklisted” in Hollywood, according to court documents obtained by People and Us Weekly. What would the entertainer have to prove to get a child support modification in Florida?

child support modification

Defeat is not an option

The “Two and a Half Men” star, 52, filed requests to modify his child support payments to ex-wives Denise Richards and Brooke Mueller, the news sites report.

Sheen shares twin sons, 9, with Mueller, to whom he was married between 2008 and 2011; and daughters 14, 13, with Richards. That marriage lasted from 2002 to 2006.

Florida Child Support

I’ve written about child support issues before. For famous actors such as Sheen, and other high-income parents, the child support guidelines can award support far exceeding any child’s needs.

Because of this problem, the guidelines expressly provide the amounts can be adjusted upward or downward. Florida allows deviations by up to 5 percent after considering relevant factors. And the statute authorizes deviations by more than 5 percent, pursuant to a list of enumerated factors.

Not on Wall Street Anymore

Sheen’s case is ironic: the famous and flamboyant actor – surrounded by “goddesses”, infused with “tiger blood”, and bragging about “winning”, claims he can’t afford his child support payments.

If Sheen is asking for a modification of his child support, he would have to prove a substantial change in circumstances, the change was not contemplated at the time of final judgment, and the change is sufficient, material, involuntary, and permanent in nature.

Courts will also want to know whether Sheen is voluntarily reducing his income by failing to use enough effort to find work commensurate with his acting abilities.

There’s also the added problem of his flaunting his wealth. Media reports on Sheen have always shown him flaunting an extravagant hedonistic lifestyle.

“I’m bi-winning. I win here, I win there!”

The USA Today documents also reportedly reveal Sheen’s reasoning behind his “dire financial crisis” with less than $10 million to his name.

“I have been unable to find steady work, and have been blacklisted from many aspects of the entertainment industry,” he alleges in the filings. “All of this has resulted in a significant reduction in my earnings.”

In addition to child support payments, the documents show Sheen is “past due” on payments to his home mortgage and pool and gardening services.

The USA Today article is here.


Gimme More Child Support

The divorce of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline has been toxic, but could be made worse because he is rumored to be strapped for cash and seeking more child support. How is child support calculated when one parent is super wealthy and the other is not?

Oops I did it Again

Federline, aka “K-Fed”, has asked a judge to increase the $20,000 per month child support payment he receives from Britney. The father is claiming their 2 kids enjoy a lavish lifestyle with her, but all he can provide them with is a lifestyle that is relatively meager.

Federline also is rumored to claim the kids go on 5-star vacations, they have every toy imaginable, a lighted tennis court, all because he claims she makes $34 million a year, while he only pulls in $3,000 per month.

How do the child support guidelines work when one parent makes millions and the other only makes a few thousands?

Florida Child Support

High income parents have special problems in determining child support. Courts are reluctant to award child support that is deemed “excessive,” but the courts are bound by child support guidelines which set a presumptive amount of support.

To make matters worse, research suggests that child support guidelines themselves are flawed in setting support for the high income parent.

I wrote an article about some of the problems with Florida child support. For example, Florida guidelines follow the income shares model. The guidelines are are regressive, so poorer parents pay a larger share of income than wealthier parents.

Good Fortune Child Support

For high-income parents, the guidelines can award support far exceeding any child’s needs. Also, Florida’s guidelines have never been updated, so they are based on the cost of goods as they existed in the 1970s.

Because of these problems, the guidelines expressly provide the amounts can be adjusted upward or downward. Florida allows deviations by up to 5 percent after considering relevant factors. And the statute authorizes deviations by more than 5 percent, pursuant to a list of enumerated factors.

There are some circumstances under which a court may divert more substantially from the child support guidelines. Good fortune child support can be awarded in cases in which one parent is very wealthy.

Courts have determined that children of such parents deserve to benefit from that parent’s wealth and success, especially since they would enjoy such benefits if the parents were married.

Some of the benefits to a child born to a wealthy parent can include private schools, travel, and other special activities above and beyond basic necessities.

Additionally, Florida has allowed courts to order savings and trusts for the children of a wealthy parent, even if they reside primarily with the other parent.

Make Me

One Britney source with direct knowledge of the situation tells TMZ:

Britney spends no more on the boys than he does. He’s barely getting by because he has to support 3 additional kids and his wife and himself on funds Brit gives him for their 2 kids.

The source also reportedly said, “The law is that both parents are to contribute to their children’s support. Where is his contribution?” Federline says his expenses are around $23,000 a month. So, when you add up his earnings and Britney’s $20,000 per month, he currently breaks even.

The TMZ article is here.

Photo credit  CC BY-SA 2.0

International Child Support

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled this week that divorced mothers will have to share the financial burden of child support with the fathers if their salaries are equal, or the woman’s is higher and children are in joint custody. This brings Israel into line with Florida law on the matter.

The Israel Case

Until now, men have been required to pay child support to their ex-wives even in situations of joint custody when the mother earned more than the father.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the ruling was given in response to an appeal by two divorced men whose ex-wives earned higher salaries than they did but who were still required to pay child support even though their children were in joint custody.

“The exclusive obligation of the father for child support payments and the exemption granted to the mother is not directly affected by the question of child custody,” wrote the justices.

The current law – requiring the father alone to pay for essential needs in child support – is likely to leave the father without the necessary resources to guarantee the welfare of the child and his well-being when he is staying with him, and also causes financial difficulties [for the father] himself.

The justices agreed with the claim of the two fathers that current law discriminates against men in not taking into account situations in which there is joint custody.

Florida Child Support

I’ve written about child support issues in Florida before. Calculating child support in Florida used to be entirely at the judge’s discretion, based on a parent’s ability to pay, and the child’s needs.

Florida established child support guidelines which follows the income shares model. The guidelines are far from foolproof, but do provide the amounts can be adjusted upward or downward. The statute allows deviations by up to 5 percent after considering relevant factors.

Additionally, the statute authorizes deviations by more than 5 percent, pursuant to a list of 10 enumerated factors, and one equitable factor — the colloquial “catch-all” exception. Finally, the statue mandates use of a gross-up calculation of support for substantial time-sharing.

In Florida, parents exercising substantial time-sharing incur their own child rearing expenses when they time-share, and are duplicating payment for items already included in their child support.

Without adjustments for substantial time-sharing, parents can be paying twice for a child’s expense, making time-sharing prohibitively expensive. Accordingly, in 2008, the statute was amended to expand the meaning of substantial time-sharing to equalize the child support obligation.

Back in Israel

Attorney Amir Shai, who represented one of the fathers, described the ruling as one of the most important decisions of the last decade. “From now on, the discrimination by which only fathers have to financially support their children will end,” said Shai.

Children in Israel now have two addresses which must take care of them, as in any normal country. It’s reasonable to expect that tens of thousands of fathers will now flood the courts with requests to adjust their child support payments in accordance with this ruling in the coming months.

The Jerusalem Post article is here.


Divorce and Illegal Income

Scott Shadle threatened to divorce his wife if she stopped turning over money from their prostitution business – which they ran from their apartment. Scott and Rebecca’s prostitution business raises a question: what do you do with an illegal marital business and illegal income?

A Marital Prostitution Business

Police say Scott Shadle had posted online ads charging for sex with his wife, Rebecca Shadle, 38. The alleged sex-for-cash business took place at Eastmont Estates apartments in Greensburg, Pa.

According to TribLive.com, police have text messages detailing discussions between the pair over how much money to charge for sex and how much of the proceeds Rebecca Shadle would then turn over to her husband.

The texts also document a martial spat between the couple that grew out of the alleged home-operated prostitution business.

When Rebecca Shadle threatened to cut off the money, her husband texted “that he would file divorce papers and call her caseworker,” court documents state.

Rebecca Shadle, 38, of Greensburg, Pa., is also accused of charging her male sex customers extra to touch a 7-year-old-girl entrusted to her car. She faces charges of trafficking of a minor, aggravated indecent assault of a child, sexual exploitation of children, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children.

She allegedly was charging her male customers extra to touch a 7-year-old-girl entrusted to her care. She faces charges of trafficking of a minor, aggravated indecent assault of a child, sexual exploitation of children, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children.

Florida and Illegal Income

The article from Pennsylvania does not indicate how much illegal income the couple made from their prostitution business. But, the question still remains: can the value of the business, and the illegal income generated from prostitution, be used to calculate alimony or child support?

In short, no. I’ve written on the subject of alimony and support before. The problem is that a Florida court cannot base a future award of alimony or child support on a future illegal income from a career consisting of vice and criminality.

Generally, it is against public policy to base a court order of support upon the assumption that a husband or a wife will violate the law in order to acquire the necessary funds to pay for support.

It makes sense, and there’s a simple reason for this public policy. If we were to base an order of support or alimony on anticipated unlawful conduct, and illegal income, the courts would not only be recognizing illegal activity, but also encouraging the future violation of the law by spouses.

The Shadle Family Business

Police say Rebecca has acknowledged being a prostitute and letting two men inappropriately touch the girl. Her husband, Scott Shadle, faces three counts related to promotion of prostitution. A pair of alleged customers face sex charges in the case related to their alleged contact with the 7-year-old girl.

The Fox News article is here.


Timesharing & The Child Support Benchbook

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Support on Friday, August 5, 2016.

The Benchbook is important reading for judges, covering a variety of areas of law. My timesharing child support article is now cited as a resource in the Benchbook.


The Office of the State Courts Administrator serves under the Florida Supreme Court, and publishes Benchbooks for the judiciary. The Benchbook helps judges and magistrates apply federal and state law, Florida rules of court, and case law to their cases.

The Benchbook helps judges and magistrates hone courtroom practice and decision-making, by keeping them informed by state-of-the-art science, best practices used nationwide, and knowledge.

My article, To Catch a Time-sharing Deviation, which was published in the Florida Bar Journal, is now listed as a helpful resource in the Child Support Benchbook for judges and magistrates.

Florida policy is to see that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after they divorce or separate and that parents share in childrearing. Child Support Guidelines historically frustrated this policy and, in fact, discouraged time-sharing.

For example, they previously did not allow a child support adjustment unless a parent spent at least 40 percent of the overnights with his or her children. In Dept. of Rev. ex rel. Sherman v. Daly, the Department of Revenue appealed a child support order because it contained a child support deviation for a verbal time-sharing schedule.

In Daly, both parents testified they shared a roughly 60/40 time-sharing schedule. However, they never put their agreement into writing. The First District Court of Appeal held Florida law prohibited the deviation.

After the 2011 Daly decision, a number of parents had their time-sharing deviations taken because they lacked court-ordered parenting plans. During the recent 2014 regular legislative session, H.B. 75543 was passed and amended §61.30. The new bill revises the circumstances in which a court may deviate from the child support guidelines and adjust child support.

The bill became effective on May 12, 2014, and applies to all actions pending on May 2014 and thereafter. As amended, §61.30 now expressly allows a court to deviate from the child support guidelines based on time-sharing arrangement exercised by agreement of parents.

My Florida Bar Journal article is here.

Florida’s OSCA website with the Benchbook is here.

Taxing Parents Who Won’t Agree to a Child Support Amount

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Support on Sunday, June 1, 2014.

If parents can’t agree to a divorce figure in Britain, the paying parent will have a 20% fee added to their child support and the payee will pay 4%. Oh, and it costs about $35 up front to register. What is happening in the UK?

As the BBC reports, thousands of letters are to be sent to single parents in Britain informing them of changes to their child support. The government wants parents to agree on child support “amicably” or pay the state.

Under the old British system, many single parents used the Child Support Agency (CSA) to sort out maintenance payments but it will soon be abolished.

A government spokesman said the old CSA was using an IT system that was “totally inadequate and notoriously riddled with defects”, and as such it was costing £74 million per annum to run in operating costs alone.

The CSA “took responsibility away from parents, encouraging conflict and hostility at huge expense to the taxpayer“.

So, the British are trying to improve service by encouraging people to come to voluntary arrangements, and if that is not possible – and the new statutory service is used – then both parents will have to pay.

The problems with the new system are easy to see. Most parents are able to agree in private to a child support calculation. However many other parents can’t unless a state agency steps in to find and use coercive methods to get parents to pay.

“We’re very concerned that closing CSA cases and bringing in charges may deter some parents from making new child maintenance agreements or pressure single parents into unstable arrangements, and children will lose out on vital support.”

There is no question that our state child support enforcement agencies do a tremendous job of getting parents to support their children. Is shifting some of the costs of enforcement on to both parents the wave of the future? We former colonists will have to keep watching the motherland to see.

The BBC article on the new child support system is available here.