Florida Court Discusses Determining Income for Purposes of Calculating Child Support

It is not uncommon for married couples to earn disparate incomes; if they divorce, the courts may award the lesser earning spouse alimony or child support. The courts will not only consider a person’s salary when determining their income but also other sources of revenue. As illustrated in a recent Florida ruling, though, not all money received from an employer is necessarily considered income. If you or your spouse are considering ending your marriage and you have concerns about the financial impact of the decision, it is wise to talk to a skilled Miami divorce attorney as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the parties married in 2011 and had four children. They decided to end their marriage and proceeded with a divorce action. The father, who worked for a construction and utility company, was required to travel for work. He received per diem payments from his employer to offset the cost of travel. In determining the father’s income for purposes of calculating alimony and child support, the trial court included amounts listed on the father’s earning statements as per diem as income. The father appealed the final judgment of dissolution of marriage, arguing, among other things, that the court incorrectly calculated his income.

Determining Income for Purposes of Calculating Child Support

On appeal, the court determined that the trial court erred in ruling that the money the father received as a per diem from his employer was considered income. Specifically, the court noted that under Florida law, gross income only includes in kind payments or reimbursed expenses to the extent that they reduced living expenses.

Here, the father testified that the per diem payments he received covered the cost of hotel stays and gas when he was required to travel for work. There was no evidence that the per diem payments reduced his living expenses to any extent or any other evidence that would support the inclusion of his per diem payments in his income.

The court also held that the trial court erred in calculating the husband’s current income, noting that while it used the amount he earned in the year to date, it divided that amount by 26 days instead of the 31 days it represented. Thus, it reversed the trial court ruling.

Talk to a Trusted Miami Attorney

Any income will be evaluated when determining child support awards, regardless of where it is derived from, but not all payments constitute income. If you or your estranged spouse intend to seek child support in a divorce proceeding, it is in your best interest to talk to an attorney. The trusted Miami attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., can advise you of your options and help you to seek a successful result in consideration of the facts of your case. We have an office in Aventura, and we regularly represent people in family law matters in Miami. You can reach us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a meeting.