Can Gifts from a Parent Count as Child Support?
Parents give their children gifts all the time and typically, there is nothing associated with them. However, when a person has been ordered to pay child support, either through divorce or a paternity proceeding, parents may sometimes wonder if they can use those gifts as a credit towards child support.
The issue most often comes up when the recipient of child support accuses the payer of falling behind on payments. If ordered to make up those payments by a judge, the paying parent may argue that they have given their child gifts, and those should count towards their child support payments. So, if you are paying child support and have given your child gifts, can you count them towards your payments? As with most legal issues, the answer is that it depends.
The Nature of the Gifts is Important
The family courts in Florida have determined in the past that gifts can be used as a credit towards child support in some instances, but it depends on the nature of the gift. The courts have determined that tangible items, such as toys, cannot be used as a credit towards child support payments. Even when a child is older and needs more expensive items, such as a vehicle, auto insurance, or repairs, these still do not count towards child support.
On the other hand, when a parent gifts a child an item that is in line with the nature of child support, the court may credit that gift towards the parent’s child support payments. For example, child support may be used to pay a child’s tuition or textbooks. If the parent responsible for child support pays for these items, the court would likely determine that payment for those items constitutes support and can be used as a credit for any retroactive child support that is due.
When Do Courts Order Retroactive Child Support?
Sometimes, people want to use parental gifts as a substitute or credit towards child support because they have missed payments. Sometimes though, Judges order retroactive support in certain divorce or paternity cases. Family court judges are given discretion in the state to order retroactive child support back to the date the two parties separated physically and did not live together with their child. The length of time a judge can order retroactive child support is capped at 24 months.
Our Family Lawyers in Orlando Can Help with Your Child Support Issues
Child support may seem like a simple issue, but it is not. Child support cases always have the potential to become complex, particularly if you have fallen behind on payments and your ex has reported you to the courts. If you have a child support issue, our Orlando family lawyers at O’Mara Law Group can provide the sound legal advice you need, and give you the best chance of a positive outcome. Call us today at 407-634-6604 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys and to learn more about how we can help.