Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Alimony

Imputation of income to a spouse for purposes of determining a Florida alimony and/or child support claim must be supported by competent, substantial evidence. This is illustrated in the recent appellate case Alvarez-Reyes v. Fernandez-Gil, 3D17-2676 (Fla. 3d DCA February 6, 2019).

In this case, the former husband appealed the trial court’s order imputing income to him and ordering him to pay permanent alimony to the former wife. While no facts are included in the appellate opinion, we can surmise that that former husband was found to be voluntarily underemployed or unemployed by the trial court, and that an income was imputed to him he historically was capable of earning. Based on that income, the trial court awarded a permanent alimony amount to the former wife.

The appellate court found no error in the trial court’s determinations. When imputing income, the appellate court noted the trial court must make a 2-part determination: (1) conclude that the termination of employment was voluntary and (2) “whether the subsequent unemployment resulted from the spouse's pursuit of his own interests or through less than diligent and bona fide efforts to find employment paying income at a level equal to or better than that formerly received.” The appellate court found there was competent, substantial evidence to support the trial court’s determination of these two parts.

Moving on to the alimony award, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s ruling, holding “The final judgment evidences that the trial court thoughtfully considered and addressed each of the statutory factors enumerated in section 61.08(2)(a)-(j), Florida Statutes (2017), weighed Fernandez-Gil's need and Alvarez-Reyes' ability to pay, and articulated the bases for its determinations. We find no abuse of discretion.”

If alimony is an issue in your Florida divorce, contact a Miami divorce lawyer to go over your best defenses and/or claims. A consultation is the first step to guiding you through the best plan for your case.