Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Alimony
A spouse who is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed may have income imputed to him or her for purposes of calculating alimony in Florida. The spouse who is asking the court to impute income to the other spouse has the burden of proving that the non-working spouse could be working or earning more money. The specific findings which must be made in these cases in explored in the recent appellate case Masino v. Masino, 1D18-450 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018).
The former wife appealed the trial court’s imputation of over $90,000 per year in income to her. This imputation was based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and from that, the trial court determined the former wife was voluntarily underemployed. In reversing this decision, the appellate court noted, “[T]he BLS data does not appear in the record, and the court failed to make particularized findings on the local job market for a person with the former wife's occupational qualifications.” Because the attorneys’ fee award was also based on this imputation, the appellate court also reversed the trial court’s ruling on that issue, to be revisited upon a correct analysis of the former wife’s income earning ability.
When a spouse seeks to impute income to the other spouse, it is common to hire a vocational expert. The vocational expert reviews the spouse’s work history as part of a thorough examination that results in an expert opinion about the spouse’s ability to earn income. A vocational expert can help a party to meet his or her burden of proof in seeking to impute income to the other party.
If your Florida divorce case includes issues regarding imputation of income, consult with a Miami divorce lawyer who can help you understand the best way to prove your case. If financial support or attorneys’ fees are an issue in your case, imputation of income may be necessary. A consultation can help you understand why and how.