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Imputing Income for Child Support

Florida's Second District Court of Appeal recently ruled that income should be imputed to a former wife in a dispute over the calculation of child support. According to the state's divorce law, income must be imputed if one of the parents is unemployed (or underemployed) by choice.

The former wife, who is also the custodial parent, claimed that she had looked unsuccessfully for work. However, after reviewing her work history, the appeals court determined that she was "voluntarily unemployed." The court therefore ordered that income be imputed to her for purposes of the calculation of the amount of child support to be paid by her former husband.

Court may Impute Income to Former Spouse When Calculating Child Support if Unemployment Voluntary

The Florida case of Cash v. Cash involves a petition by a former husband to modify the amount of child support he is obligated to pay to his former wife. Among the arguments presented by the former husband is the contention that income should be "imputed" (ascribed or attributed) to his former wife - even though she has not been employed since the dissolution of the marriage.

Florida divorce law pertaining to child support specifies that "income shall be imputed to an unemployed or underemployed parent" if the individual is unemployed or underemployed by choice (unless he or she has health problems). The child support calculation includes the amount a parent could reasonably be expected to earn if he or she did work.

Florida Appeals Court Reviewed Former Spouse's Work Record and Job Search Information

While the trial court declined to impute any income to the former wife in Cash v. Cash, the appeals court agreed with the former husband. After reviewing the evidence related to the former wife's work record and her job search, the Second District Court of Appeal concluded that there is "substantial evidence that the former wife is voluntarily unemployed." Furthermore, the court determined that there is no health problem restricting her ability to pursue employment.

Accordingly, the appeals court ordered that income be imputed to the former wife and instructed the trial court to calculate the new monthly child support amount to be paid by the former husband.

Any parent facing negotiations or court proceedings related to child support in Florida should seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. A lawyer with such expertise will review carefully the unique facts of each case, offer timely advice based on a thorough understanding of the relevant legislation and jurisprudence, and provide vigorous representation at each stage of the process.

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