In Florida, parents are expected to care for their children to the best of their ability. This means contributing as much money as possible to their upbringing. Unfortunately, some parents try to skirt this responsibility by artificially depressing their earnings to lower their child support amount. When this occurs, the family law judge will impute income in order to prevent abuse from one of the parents. This ensures that the child will be properly cared for and that a parent will earn as much as they possibly can.
Imputed income would come into play if there were some reason to believe that one parent was intentionally trying to earn less or was being less than diligent in finding gainful employment. For instance, if a father was working 40 hours per week and suddenly begins working 20 hours with no reasonable explanation for the reduction in hours, the judge might set child support earnings at 40 hours per week. Similarly, if a man were earning $75,000 and now earns $30,000 with no reason for their underemployment, the judge might determine that $75,000 is their real earnings capacity.
It is important to note that if parent has a valid reason for earning less, this will be taken into consideration by the court. For instance, in the example above, if a parent has a health condition that prevents them from working 40 hours per week, a judge will not force someone to work at the expense of their health. The burden of proof for imputing income falls upon the parent seeking this support. So if a wife were claiming that her ex-husband was intentionally underemployed, she would be forced to prove this if she wanted a new calculation for child support.
At the Law Offices of James S. Cunha, we understand how contentious child support situations can be. If you feel that your spouse is intentionally earning less than they should or if your spouse is seeking to impute your income, we can help. To speak with a family law attorney about your situation, contact the Law Offices of James S. Cunha today to schedule a consultation.