Child Support in Florida: Understanding Imputed Income
Under Florida law, child support obligations are calculated, largely, by considering the income level of the parents. Indeed, the state has put specific child support guidelines in place. However, these guidelines do not work in every case. For a number of different reasons, Florida may allow a deviation from the standard child support guidelines.
One of the most common ways that this occurs is through something called “imputing income.” Essentially, additional income is “assigned” to the parent who owes child support in order to ensure that they pay a fair and equitable amount. Here, our Tampa child support lawyers have put together a brief guide to help you better understand imputed income.
What Parents Need to Know About Imputed Income in Florida
Imputed income is essentially a legal fiction—that being a ‘fact’ that is assumed by courts in order to reach a fair decision or to apply a legal rule. In other words, with imputed income, Florida courts can assign income ‘on paper’ to a parent who owes child support for the purposes of calculating how much they should pay.
This raises an important question: Why would this happen? A common example would be a parent voluntarily resigning from a high paying job. Theoretically, at least for the time being, this would bring their monthly income down to $0. Under Florida’s standard child support calculations, that would bring their monthly obligations down to $0 as well—potentially creating an unjust situation, as this parent could still have significant financial resources at hand. By “imputing” income to them, a Florida court can ensure that they still are required to pay a fair and equitable amount of child support.
Florida Courts Have Considerable Discretion in Imputed Income Disputes
By definition, standardized child support guidelines and calculations do not work well in imputed income cases. If a dispute arises over imputed income and child support, Florida courts will carefully review the specific circumstances at hand. Some of the specific issues that will be considered include:
- The reasons behind the parent’s sudden decline in income;
- The stored wealth or financial resources each parent has at their disposal;
- Past earning history, which is used as a proxy for current earning potential; and
- The financial needs of the child, particularly for educational or medical expenses.
If you are currently involved in a child support case related to imputed income—whether you are paying child support or receiving child support—it is crucial that you take proactive steps to protect your rights. Get professional legal help right away.
Call Our Tampa, FL Child Support Lawyer Today
At Bubley & Bubley, P.A., our Florida child support attorneys have a deep familiarity with the state’s child support laws. If you have any questions or concerns about imputed income, we will protect your rights. To set up a private, no obligation consultation, please contact our law firm today. With an office in Tampa, we serve parents throughout the region, including in Pinellas County and Pasco County.