How Imputed Income Could Affect Your Child Support Award
When determining how much a party owes in child support, Florida courts are required to take a series of factors into account, including each party’s income, whether either party is employed, and each spouse’s capacity to earn a living. However, these are not the only elements that play an important role in deciding how much a person owes in child support. For instance, when non-custodial parents are unemployed or report a low income, courts are often willing to assign an income to those individuals based on an estimation of the amount that they could earn if they worked a minimum wage job. Once this has been established, courts are free to determine how much child support the non-custodial parent should pay based on his or her imputed income.
If you are unemployed or are concerned that your income is not sufficient to pay child support, you could still be required to make monthly payments based on your imputed income, and if you fail to make those payments, could face sanctions from the court. To ensure that you are not assigned a child support award that is outside of your means, or if you are unable to pay your current child support award due to job loss or health issues, it is important to contact an experienced child support attorney who can help you seek modification of your court order.
What is Imputed Income?
Imputed income refers to the amount of income that a person would make if he or she were employed and is calculated by family law courts when a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, unless:
- The party is suffering from a physical or mental incapacity; or
- Other circumstances over which the parent has no control exist.
When calculating imputed income, judges take a number of factors into account, including:
- The reason and intent behind a party’s unemployment or underemployment;
- Each parent’s educational level and occupational qualifications;
- Each parent’s past earning history;
- Each parent’s recent work history;
- The geographical area in which the parties live and the prevailing earnings level in the community; and
- Whether one party has hidden income or wages.
All of these elements can play a significant role when it comes to determining imputed income. For instance, if an application of these factors reveals that a custodial parent could be making much more than he or she currently does and no extenuating circumstances exist, a court could respond by lowering child support for the non-custodial parent. Courts are also limited when it comes to imputing income, as they are not permitted to make these calculations based upon income records that are more than five years old or based on income levels that a parent has never earned, unless he or she was recently re-licensed or certified.
Contact Our Fort Lauderdale Office Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
To speak with experienced Fort Lauderdale child support attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. about your child support-related questions and concerns, please call 954-945-7591 or submit one of our brief online contact forms today.