Creative Child Support: In-kind and Prepaid

Steve and Mary were never married, but Mary had Steve's child. Steve wanted to be the exemplary father and to do the best he could for his new daughter. In that spirit, Steve agreed to pay child support to Mary at a high rate, to purchase a home in his nice suburban town for Mary and their child, and to provide Mary with an automobile.

In an effort to protect Steve in the future, the agreement provided that if child support were ever contested in the future, the court must consider the house and car given to Mary as if they were a stream of payments of child support that would last through their child's minority.

Child support was contested several years later. At that time, the trial court felt that the prior agreement was unfair to the child and did not give Steve the credit for his prepayment of child support that he was entitled to in the prior order of the court. (Steve was to receive credit for the first $1,700 per month in child support; the trial court set Steve's child support at $945. In so doing this, the trial court calculated support and then reduced the amount by 25% to compensate Steve for the house and car.)

What we did.

We appealed and won. The Appellate Court found that "... the trial court lacked authority to arbitrarily reduce the calculated amount by twenty-five percent to compensate Appellant for his provision of the home in Hudson. The parties already had a valid judgment entry that accounted for this amount. We find that the trial court's failure to credit Appellant for the full $1700 was an abuse of discretion."

Because Steve's support amount fell below the prepaid amount of $1,700 per month, he had no further obligation to pay Mary a monthly amount for child support.