Imputing Income in Florida Divorce Proceedings
When a couple goes through a divorce, a family law court will be tasked with examining both spouses’ incomes, in conjunction with other relevant facts, when making certain decisions. This information will, for instance, be used in determining whether one spouse will be required to make spousal maintenance payments to the other. Similarly, if a couple shares children, the court will use this information to assign financial responsibility for the children.
These tasks become much more difficult when a spouse voluntarily chooses not to work or accepts a job that pays less than what he or she could actually earn. Fortunately, in these cases, courts are permitted to impute income to the spouse in question, which essentially means that they can assign an amount of income to that individual based on his or her qualifications and the current job market. To learn more about the imputation of income in Florida divorce proceedings and how you can ensure that all property settlement, spousal maintenance, and child support awards are fair in your own case, please contact our experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce legal team today.
In Florida, courts are only allowed to impute income to an individual in certain cases, including during divorce proceedings when attempting to issue an alimony award. These determinations are based primarily on both parties’ earning capacity, employability, and income, so one spouse’s failure to provide information or to seek employment, can make alimony assessments nearly impossible to complete. Fortunately, in some situations, courts will step in and impute income, but only if the other party can prove that:
- The other spouse’s underemployment is voluntary; and
- The other spouse has not used his or her best efforts to secure income at a level equal to or better than what he or she formerly received.
It’s important to note that whether a party has used his or her best efforts to find employment does not require that the person obtain new training or go back to school. Instead, a party’s current qualifications will be the standard used by judges when imputing income. Otherwise, when making these determinations, courts will consider the spouse’s recent work history, the prevailing earnings level in the community, and the individual’s occupational qualifications.
Imputing income is also permissible in child support cases where one parent is unemployed or underemployed, unless the person in question suffers from physical or mental incapacity, or other circumstances (over which he or she has no control) are dictating that individual’s employment situation. In the event that a court does impute income for child support purposes and the parent seeking support believes that the amount should be higher, that individual can rebut the court’s presumption by presenting competent, substantial evidence to the contrary, such as job market or local wage rates.
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If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage and you have questions about spousal maintenance or child support, please contact dedicated Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 for help.