Florida Court Explains Imputed Income in Child Support Matters

Income is one of the numerous factors the Florida courts consider when determining obligations and rights with regard to child support. Unfortunately, parties will sometimes attempt to inappropriately alter support obligations by refusing to obtain gainful employment. In such instances, pursuant to the Florida child support guidelines, the courts can impute income to them. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida child support case in which the court found that the trial court erred in failing to consider the wife’s earning potential based on her recent employment. If you have questions about child support, it is prudent to meet with a Miami child support lawyer as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the parties married in Michigan and had two minor children. They each filed petitions for dissolution in 2019; the husband in Michigan and the wife in Florida. They were divorced in Florida, and the court merged and incorporated their confidential settlement agreement into the final judgment of the divorce. While the agreement contained provisions regarding child support, the court crossed out those sections, and they were not part of the final judgment.

Reportedly, the parties then determined that Florida was the proper jurisdiction for child support and child custody issues between the parties. The wife then filed a motion to establish temporary child support. The husband moved to dismiss the motion in light of the settlement agreement. The court issued an order directing the husband to pay almost $3,000 per month in support. It also imputed income to the wife at the level of minimum wage. The husband appealed on numerous grounds.

Imputed Income in Florida Child Support Matters

One of the issues presented on appeal was whether the trial court erred in imputing a minimum wage income to the wife. The court ultimately found that it did and reversed the trial court’s judgment as to that issue. Specifically, the court explained that the Florida child support guidelines state that if a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, monthly income should be imputed to them, absent circumstances beyond their control, like mental or physical incapacity.

In such instances, the parent’s probable and potential earnings should be calculated based on their recent work history, qualifications, and the prevailing wage in the community. In the subject case, evidence was presented that the wife earned approximately $2,000 per month before she voluntarily stopped working. Thus, the trial court erred in calculating her imputed income at the minimum wage.

Confer with an Experienced Miami Attorney

The Florida courts base child support obligations, in part, the parties’ earnings, but if a party voluntarily ceases working, the courts can consider their potential income. If you are dealing with a child support dispute, it is advisable to talk to an attorney about your rights. The experienced Miami lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. have ample experience managing child support matters in the Florida courts, and if we represent you,  we will advocate aggressively on your behalf. We have an office in Aventura, and we regularly represent people in child support cases in Miami. You can contact us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a meeting.