Florida Family Law Cases and Voluntary Unemployment
A person’s income can matter a lot in a Florida family law case. Indeed, from property distribution, to spousal support (alimony) to child support obligations, the calculation of income will have a dramatic effect on the results of the case. Contrary to what many people believe, calculating income is not always a straightforward process. There are many different factors that can potentially complicate income calculations. Here, our Orlando family law team will address one of the most common complicating factors: voluntary unemployment.
Understanding the Concept of ‘Imputed Income’
To better understand how Florida family law courts handle voluntary unemployment, please consider the following two hypothetical cases:
Hypothetical Case One
- A husband and wife both work full-time jobs. However, during the divorce process, one of the spouses voluntarily leaves their position. As a result of their sudden lack of income, this spouse seeks alimony payments.
Hypothetical Case Two
- A married couple with two children are nearing divorce. It has already been determined that one of the spouses will have primary custody of the children. The other spouse, who was previously working full time, suddenly quit their job and claims that they are unable to pay child support.
While these two examples are hypothetical, they are by no means unrealistic. Similar circumstances arise all of the time in Florida family law courts. Both of these cases share one fundamental factor in common: A person intentionally lowered their own income in order to avoid paying money to their former partner. In Florida, this is deemed an unacceptable practice. It is an effort to manipulate the system. Florida courts can, and usually will, do something about this. More specifically, courts can impute income to a party based on that party’s actions. Imputing income simply means that income will be artificially assigned to a party for the basis of making income calculations.
Florida Courts Have Wide Discretion to Impute Income
Whenever a Florida court determines that the financial picture currently presented by the two parties is not actually accurate or fair, the court can impute income to either of the party involved in the case. This can be done at the sole discretion of the court, or after the court hears a request from one of the parties as to why doing so would be necessary. Referring back to the first example, a court could assign the spouse ‘income’ so that they could not get any alimony underserved awarded.
Likewise, in the second example, an Orange County, Florida court could assign income to the spouse that quit their job in an attempt to avoid child support obligations.
Do You Need Family Law Assistance?
We can help. At the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A. we handle a wide variety of Florida family law cases, including divorces, child custody claims, alimony disputes, child support disputes and much more. For immediate legal help, please do not hesitate to contact us today at (407) 521-7171. From our office in Orlando, we proudly serve individuals and families throughout the surrounding communities.