Florida Child Support: What is Imputed Income?
Under Florida law (Florida Statutes § 61.30), child support obligations are typically calculated using certain basic guidelines. While calculating child support may seem complicated, it is actually a reasonably straightforward process in the majority of cases. That being said, there are certainly exceptions to this general rule. In some circumstances, Florida family law courts must go outside of the state’s child support guidelines in order to craft a just and equitable award.
One common example of this involves something called ‘imputed income’. Imputed income is income that is assigned or attributed to a person for the purposes of a specific calculation. Here, our Clearwater child support attorney provides an overview of the most important things that Florida parents need to know about imputed income and child support.
Understanding Imputed Income
Under Florida’s child support guidelines, income is used as the basis for calculating financial obligations. The parent who pays child support will typically be required to pay a percentage of their income. That percentage will vary based a number of different factors, including the total amount of children and health and educational needs of each child. As the majority of people earn their wealth through income, this metric is appropriate and equitable in most child support cases.
However, there are exceptions. For example, what happens if a financially stable parent decides to quit their job, thereby bringing their income down to $0 per month? What if a relatively well-off business owner decides to re-invest their earnings back in the business, resulting in almost no take-home pay? Can a parent avoid child support obligations by avoiding bringing in any income? The answer is a resounding no.
This is where the legal concept of imputed income applies. Under Florida law, courts can impute (assign) income to a party based on how much they could or should have earned had they not decided to avoid earning income. Parents who voluntarily quit their job, retire, taking a lower paying position, work fewer hours, or restructure their earnings may be assigned imputed income for the purposes of calculating child support.
Putting a Number on It: How is Imputed Income Calculated?
In calculating imputed income, Florida family law courts are authorized to take a number of different factors into consideration. Some examples include:
- The reason for unemployment, underemployment, or loss of income;
- The past earning history and earning potential of each parent;
- Whether each parent has hidden financial assets or wealth; and
- Other material factors that can be used to craft an equitable result.
Notably, family law courts are generally not permitted to consider financial records that are older than five years old and they are generally not permitted to impute income at a level that has never actually been earned by the parent who owes child support.
Get Help From Our Clearwater Child Support Lawyer
At the Law Office of Gale H. Moore P.A., our Clearwater family law attorney has extensive experience handling complex child support cases. If you have questions or concerns about how imputed income affects your child support rights, we can help. For a fully confidential consultation, please contact our Largo law office today at 727-584-2528.