What Can Be Considered to Receive Alimony or Child Support: Case Example

Can the court consider if a loan from family or friends as a husband or wife‘s income for alimony or child support purposes.

GARDNER VS. GARDNER, 692 So.2d 245 (1st D.C.A. 1997) addressed the issue as have several courts. At the final hearing the trial court foundthat Kathie Gardner had a need for alimony but did not require Gerald Gardner to pay alimony payments because his parents had been providing support for Kathie since the dissolution of marriage began two years earlier. The judge specifically stated:

I’m not awarding alimony at this point because Mr. 8. Mrs. Gardner, Sr. seems to be taking care of that, very amply I might add”…

The court noted that the general rule was that gifts which had been received are purely speculative in nature, mere expectancies, and as such are not properly included in a calculation of income for the purposes of determining the need for or the ability to provide support. SHIVELEY VS. SHIVELEY,635 So.2d 1021 ( 1st D.C.A. 1994); and, BEDELL VS. BEDELL, 583 So.2d 1005 (Fla. 1991). For the purposes of demonstrating need in dissolution or modification proceedings, the fact that one of the parties is surviving through the Iargess of her family is legally irrelevant. On appeal, the District Court of Appeals receded from the general rule of law.

The trial court abused its discretion in failing to award alimony based on the monetary gifts the husband’s parents have given in the past but were under no obligation to give in the future.

In ORDINI VS. QBDINI, 701 So.2d 663 (4th D.C.A.1997) the trial court erred in not taking into account the husband’s parents monthly support of the parties and their children on a regular basis throughout the marriage. After Mr. and Mrs. Ordini got married they lived in New Jersey in a home owned by the husband’s father’s company. In New Jersey the husband “worked” with his father but seldom actually worked unless he felt like it. In addition the husband’s parents completely supported the parties so that the total they received was about $6,500 per month.

The parties eventually moved to Florida and the husband’s parents continued to support them. They separated in 1994 and the husband’s parents continued to support them through the trial.

The court mistakenly concluded that it could not consider what the husband’s parents had given the parties in the past pursuant to SQL VS, $QL; 656 So.2d 206 (3rd D.C.A.1995). In So] the Third District characterised the evidence as showing “large” sporadic gifts… which varied in frequency and amount over the preceding several years. Sol concluded that it would be impermissible to consider imputing income because the gifts were sporadic.

However, a different factual circumstances existed in the Ordini case. In Ordini the parties received monthly sums from the husband’s parents from the inception of the marriage continuing through the trial. The husband’s mother testified that she will continue to meet her son’s needs as long as it was for a proper purpose. The Fourth District Court of Appeals factually distinguished the Ordini case from the Sol case.

The provision of Florida Statute 61 are broad enough to include regular gifts in determining income for the purposes of child support.

In regard to alimony the statute provides that the court “shall consider all relevant economic factors, including but not limited to…”

All sources of income available to either party.

The court can also consider any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

Therefore, because the Ordini gifts were on a regular basis continuing from the date of marriage through trial. The court probably could consider those sums with reference to determining the proper amount of alimony and child support.

The issue of ability to pay is continually being addressed.

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Stephen Butter