Kids require a lot of support. Yes, emotional, moral, and physical support is included in this to be sure. Most of the time, however, people are referring to the financial demands of caring for a child when referencing the support required by kids. It is the responsibility of both parents to financially support their children and courts will order child support to help ensure that parents make good on this duty. While most people think of child support as payments made to a co-parent to financially support and provide for the needs of a child, you may be wondering whether purchases made directly for your child will count as child support. The answer to this, of course, is that it depends.
Do Purchases for My Kids Count Towards Child Support?
Generally speaking, in-kind, tangible gifts will not be considered as counting towards court-ordered child support payments. Gifts like toys bought and given to a child will usually not be considered a substitute for child support payments. Other items, however, may count towards child support when provided to the child and for the child’s benefit. Prior to making such purchases, however, you should consult legal counsel as it can be dangerous to assume that your purchases will count towards child support payments.
While most tangible gifts, such as toys, will not be considered as counting towards required child support payments, other purchases, including food and clothing, may. Whether a purchase or payment should count as child support most commonly arises when a parent has missed past child support payments and is seeking a reduction of the obligation accordingly. If a Florida court finds that a parent paid for a specific expense on behalf of the child and that it was in the nature of the support, the court may reduce the amount of back child support payments accordingly.
The Montante case stated that payments made that directly benefit the child and are found to be in “substantial compliance with a support order” may be credited against a child support obligation. The Florida appeals court in the Montante case went on to say that while more frivolous purchases were more likely to be considered gifts than support, payment of necessities such as health insurance and private school tuition are more likely to be able to reduce child support liability.
Florida courts have wide discretion in determining which payments and purchases fall more into the “necessities” that “benefit the child” category. In order for a court to consider reducing child support liability because of such expenditures, the payor parent has to submit credible evidence as to the nature of the gifts. The court will then consider the expenditures in light of the individual circumstances of a family and guided by principles of equity and fairness.
Florida Family Law Attorneys
Child support can be a complex, but vitally important matter. For all of your questions, concerns, and enforcement issues, the team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou is happy to serve you and your family. Contact us today.