In Florida, whether parents are married or not, they are expected to both take an active role in the care and support of their child. Occasionally, however, a parent will purposefully skirt his or her financial responsibilities and attempt to decrease his or her income to lower their child support obligations. Florida courts have zero tolerance for this kind of action and will impute income to the non-supportive parent.
Imputing income is the process of assigning income to one parent. Generally, child support calculations are made when both parents submit their respective incomes to the court and the court determines what each is able to contribute. However, when one parents under reports their income or there is evidence that the parent has voluntarily become unemployed or underemployed, the court will assign an income to that parent that is in line with what his or her actual earning potential is.
This does not mean that parents need to worry about whether they are earning the absolute most of their potential. Florida courts are not in the business of telling people what careers they should be pursuing. Instead, this system is designed to catch parents who are obviously and egregiously attempting to circumvent their responsibilities. For instance, if a parent was previously working as a doctor commanding six-figures and he or she voluntarily quit this job and took a much lower-paying job for no apparent reason other than to lower child support responsibilities, a court might impute income to that parent. On the other hand, if the parent is able to submit evidence that he or she has made a good faith decision to change career paths and it is unrelated to child support obligations, a court would likely consider this evidence in his or her favor.
Ultimately, Florida family courts aim to ensure both parents are contributing their fair share. If you believe your ex-spouse is underreporting income or is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, meet with the Florida family law attorneys at the Law Office of K. Dean Kantaras.