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When Can a Court Impute Income in Divorce?

Florida judges will not turn a blind eye to the voluntary unemployment or underemployment of a party in an alimony or child support issue. In fact, under certain circumstances, a Florida court will “impute” income to such a party. Let’s take a closer look at what imputing income means and when a court can and will impute income in a divorce.

When Can a Court Impute Income in Divorce?

Imputing income is a process that can arise incident to addressing a few different issues involved in a divorce. Such issues include alimony and child support determinations. If one spouse chooses to be underemployed or unemployed, then a judge may “impute” income based on estimates as to what they could earn in the current job market. Essentially, imputing income involves assigning an income level to a party that accurately reflects what they should be making based on factors such as their skills and ability to work.

Imputed income is a way for a court to hold a party to a divorce accountable should they be purposefully making less money or hiding income in an attempt to undermine any potential alimony or child support award. Courts will often award alimony based on one party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay. Child support calculations will also focus a great deal on the income levels of the parents. When a party does not accurately represent what they are earning or what they are capable of earning, it undermines the entire process. Imputing income is a tool courts can use to rectify this.

When a court imputes income to a party, they are essentially going to treat the financial situation of that party as if they did make what they are capable of making in the current job market. To determine how much income to impute, the court will consider a number of factors and evidence of the party’s earning capacity. This will include reviewing tax returns and pay stubs along with other evidence often gathered from current and previous employers of the party. Courts have broad discretion in imputing income and determining the exact amount of income that will be imputed. Generally speaking, however, the court is not able to impute more income to a party than what the party has made historically. The exception to this general rule being when a party has no history of working at all.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Are you in the midst of divorce proceedings and your soon-to-be former spouse is voluntarily unemployed, underemployed, or hiding income sources? The team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou will help ensure that they are held accountable in court. We can present the strongest possible case for imputing income so that you receive the proper alimony and child support awards. You deserve fair divorce proceedings and we are here to help see that this happens. Contact us today.

Andrew Nickolaou

Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew also handles record expungements and sealings. If you have questions about this article, contact Andrew today by clicking here.