What Is Imputed Income?
Child support is a right owed to every child from their parents. If the parents choose to divorce, the court will usually assign a certain amount of child support to be paid each month, from the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent (in trust for the child). However, sometimes the noncustodial parent will try to resist or otherwise get out of paying the amount the court says they owe. If your ex-spouse is trying to do this, or has done this in the past, you do have options under Florida law, especially if you are able to get an attorney involved.
Florida Child Support
As in most jurisdictions, child support in Florida is determined by the court, after assessing a number of different factors from both parents’ incomes to the medical needs of the child. If you have children, you will generally be asked to pay support (or receive it) – it is unlawful for the parents to negotiate the right to child support away, given that the right is not theirs to discard. The parents owe what is called a legal duty to support their child, and the court will enforce that duty.
In most situations, the obligor parent will pay, the obligee (custodial) parent will receive, and the funds will be used to help pay for the child’s costs of living such as medical care or insurance premiums, new clothes, extracurricular activities, and the like. However, some parents can and do contest the amount requested, which is their right, though they can only do so under certain conditions. Most of the time, in order to contest one’s child support payments, one must be able to show substantially changed circumstances, whether financial or otherwise. If the modification is held to be in the best interests of the child, it will generally be granted.
The snag in the process that most often occurs is when the obligor (the noncustodial parent) decides that the support amount they are being asked for is too high. In some cases, that parent will voluntarily take a pay cut or even quit their job, because then, they reason, they have less money with which the court can estimate an appropriate support metric. The problem with that thinking is that Florida law allows imputing a certain level of income to that parent – in other words, estimating that they could reasonably earn a certain amount, even though they have chosen not to currently.
Florida law actually allows non-paying parents to be held in contempt of court if they do not comply with the court’s order to pay. Usually, a hearing will be held, and if the non-paying parent does not appear, a presumption will be established that the parent would rather be in contempt than pay. The only way to lift this presumption is to prove, with actual evidence (rather than merely the person’s own word), that the parent lacks the ability to pay support or alimony at the level the court has asked for. It is state public policy that children should be “maintained from the resources of their parents” and if you do not do this, it is incumbent upon you to produce convincing evidence as to why, or face serious consequences.
Call A Hollywood Attorney
It can be frustrating having to pay more child support than you would like, but the consequences if you do not are generally steep enough to ensure that it is paid. If you are having trouble with paying or receiving child support, enlisting an attorney can be a help to set the record straight. The Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. has been handling these cases for years, and we know how to spot the tricks ex-spouses use. Your children should come first. Contact the Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. for legal advice at 954-963-5900 or leave a message online.