Grand Old Opry
By Michael H. Gora
Q I am the mother of a lovely 12-year-old young woman. Her father and I were never married but lived together for several years, before and after her birth. During our relationship I worked, and still work as a schoolteacher. He never worked. His father however, is a multi-millionaire who has a face and voice which everyone in the world would recognize as a Nashville based country and western recording star.
During our relationship, the grandfather refused to recognize my daughter in any way, or have anything to do with her, perhaps because we are of a different race. However, on Christmas of each year, he would give his son a quarter million dollars for support for the next year. If emergencies would arise during the year, more money was available. No money was saved. I was told that no savings were necessary; his dad would always be there.
A year ago he abandoned us for a younger woman, married her and another child is on the way. He kicked us out of his house, but rented a house for us, paid support, and kept our daughter in private school and sent her to camp last summer.
Now that the school year is over, he says we are on our own. He says that he has no money, no income, no skills and never worked in his life. I have appealed to him and his father, who will not even acknowledge we exist. What are my rights? I can’t even afford a lawyer.
A If you can prove the history of the grandfather’s regular giving through bank records and testify about your knowledge of the lifestyle that you had enjoyed, you are likely to be very successful in obtaining child support, attorney’s fees and, perhaps, extra money for private school and summer camp.
Florida case law allows that proof of regular substantial giving, under circumstances where it is very likely to continue, forms a basis for child support under Florida child support guidelines, which include money for extras such as private school and summer camp if usually provided. The gift income can also support an award of attorney’s fees and court costs.
Keep in mind, however, that guidelines for child support is somewhat limited in amount. On the $250,000 tax-free gift income you mentioned, adjusted for your income, the guidelines support would be just under $2,000 a month. The school and camps may or may not be found affordable by a court. Health insurance for your daughter and some payment toward non-covered medical expenses might be provided, as well as some life insurance to secure the child support. On the facts you present I’m sure you can find competent counsel to take on your case.
Michael H. Gora has been certified by the Board of Specialization of the Florida Bar as a specialist in family and matrimonial law, and is a partner with Shapiro Blasi Wasserman & Gora P.A. in Boca Raton. Mr. Gora may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.