Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Child Support

Imputing child support in a Florida child support case requires more than a hunch that a parent is not earning his or her full potential in salary. A party seeking to impute income to the other parent must show the parent is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed, and the amount of income to impute. In the case Windsor v. Windsor, 1D19-764 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018), we see this standard applied to a real life set of facts.

The parties originally agreed for the father to pay $550 per month in child support. Subsequently, both parties filed petitions for modification with the mother seeking an increase in support and the father seeking a decrease. After a hearing on the petition, the trial court determined the father was voluntarily underemployed and imputed an annual salary of $100,000 per year to him.

The father appealed. First, the appellate court found there was competent, substantial evidence to indicate that the father was voluntarily underemployed where the father’s current wife testified she and the father sold their restaurant in favor of a coffee shop in order to “slow down some.” This statement showed the father voluntarily took a less lucrative position.

However, the appellate court found there was not substantial, competent evidence to support the trial court’s imputation of $100,000 to the father as income. The appellate court held, “But to impute $100,000 of income, the court needed evidence that the ex-husband had the present ability to earn $100,000 in his community. Yet there was no evidence below about the relevant job market in the ex-husband's area, There was testimony from the ex-husband's former employer that if his outfit was hiring someone with the ex-husband's credentials, it would pay at least $100,000. But there was no evidence that such a job was available.” The trial court’s order was therefore reversed for the trial court to reconsider the issue of the father’s imputation of income.

If you are seeking to impute income to the other party in your Florida family law case, or you are the target of income imputation, contact a Miami family law attorney to determine your best claims and defenses. A consultation can assist you in learning about the best approach to take in your case.