When parents in Florida divorce, courts want to make sure a child support order is fair to both parents. Sometimes a parent is unemployed or underemployed. This means they are likely earning little to no income and would not have much to contribute to child support.
However, both parents are responsible for supporting their child financially. If the paying parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed the court may find it fair to impute income for the purpose of calculating child support.
What is imputed income?
If you are unemployed or underemployed, Florida courts will impute income to calculate what you owe in child support.
Imputed income is the imposition of a higher salary than what you currently earn for the purpose of calculating child support. It is based on the presumption that you can earn more than what you currently do, but choose not to.
Generally, income is imputed if you underreport income, or the court decides that you are voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.
However, if you are unemployed or underemployed due to a physical or mental incapacity or due to circumstances beyond your control, income will not be imputed. Income also might not be imputed if the court finds it is necessary for you to be a stay-at-home parent.
Calculating imputed income
The court will calculate your imputed income based on:
- Your recent work history
- Any degrees or other qualifications you have
- The prevailing earnings level in your area
If this information is unavailable or you cannot provide the court with adequate information on your financial situation, income will automatically be imputed.
In such situations, there is a presumption that your income is the same as the median income of current full-time, year-round workers. But this presumption can be rebutted.
Divorce can significantly impact children. One way to lessen the impact of divorce on children is to ensure the child is supported financially by both parents. Sometimes income must be imputed to make this happen.