This case is about seeking a child support Order and a claim for undue hardship.
The parties met in or about April of 2017. Though a relationship commenced, the parties dispute the nature of the relationship. Mother argues that although the father always kept his own home, it was a relationship of some permanence and they separated in December of 2018. The father argues that he was in an “off and on” relationship with the mother that ended in late 2017, although a subsequent sexual encounter in early 2018 led to the mother’s pregnancy with the child in the matter.
The father is a dentist who owns and operates his practice via two separate corporations of which he is the sole shareholder, officer, and director. His reported income for 2016, 2017, 2018 was approximately $850,000, $700,000, and $500,000, respectively. The father did not provide any documentary evidence relating to his 2019 or current income.
In mid-2018, the father bought a home into which the mother moved in. The father argues that the parties agreed that the mother would pay rent to the father. The mother argues that the parties agreed that the father would pay mortgage and property tax payments while the mother pays for the utilities. The court found that regardless of the version of events, the fact remains that the mother did not pay any rent from the time that she moved in until the date of separation.
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES’
Following the parties’ separation, the father paid $2,000 in child support for 8 months and subsequently increased the amount to $2,600 for the next 4 months. The court noted the fact that the father had pre-existing support obligations from his previous marriage: father is required to pay his former spouse $6,572 per month in child support and $12,085 per month in spousal support based on an agreed-upon income amount of $550,000. The mother argues that the same figure of $550,000 should be used to determine that a child support amount of $4,179 be owed to her. In the alternative, the mother argued that the father’s income should be based on his reported 2018 income and table child support amount be awarded to her. In any case, the father argued that this would cause him undue hardship given his pre-existing support obligations.
The court took issue with the mother’s position that an income amount of $550,000 should be used to determine that a child support amount of $4,179 be owed to her because the same amount was used in the context of the dissolution of the father’s previous marriage. The court noted that they do not have the context in which the parties came to an agreement with respect to the father’s income. As such, the court noted that the more appropriate approach is to base the father’s income on his most recently demonstrated income, which is that of 2018.
With respect to the father’s position that he would be subject to undue hardship if he had to pay table child support amount, the court rejected his position based on the fact that the father was maintaining his pre-existing support obligation while he was paying mortgage payments, property tax payments, and over $2,000 in child support to the mother. The court noted that the house has since been sold which gives him access to additional funds and that there were no more mortgage and property tax payments to be made. The court ordered that the father shall pay to the mother table support for one child of $3,763 per month on an annual income of $492,153.
This case reminds us to be cognizant of the context in which claims are being made in a family law proceeding. It is important to consult a family lawyer who can help provide insight on how the court may view your position so as to maximize the chance of reaching an ideal outcome.
For more information, please call us at Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. or contact our firm online.