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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Imputing Income for Support Calculations

In Florida, a court can impute income to a spouse or parent in spousal and/or child support proceedings.  This means that, for purposes of calculating child support or determining spousal support, a court can treat a party as though his or her income is higher than it actually is.  A court will consider imputing income to a party if it finds that the party is capable of working and is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.

What does that mean?  Voluntary unemployment is when a party doesn’t have a job due to reasons subject to that party’s control; for example, a party will likely be deemed voluntarily unemployed if that party quit their job or was “fired with cause” from their job.  Voluntary underemployment is when a party “chooses” a job that pays less than that party’s earning capacity; for example, if a party was “fired with cause” from his job as a construction worker and he subsequently finds employment as a construction worker with another company but earns less at his new job, that party could be deemed voluntarily underemployed.

Why does the court do this?  Sadly, parties will attempt to lower their support obligation to the other party and/or increase the support obligation from the other party, by purposefully earning less than they are capable of or reporting less income then they actually make.  Because of these shenanigans, voluntary unemployment and voluntary underemployment can be considered evidence of a party’s bad faith in support proceedings and imputing income to the offending party is the court’s remedy.  

Another reason for imputing income is to reinforce an individual’s obligation to be self-supportive and to enforce their duty to support any minor children.  In a divorce scenario for example, generally one party cannot be reasonably expected to solely bear the burden of supporting and maintaining two households; both parties must contribute.  Be forewarned: a spouse who has never worked but has the ability to work and does not have any compelling reasons (recognized under the law) to continue not working, can be imputed to full time, minimum wage income for support purposes.

Whether or not income will be imputed and how much income will be imputed depends on the specific circumstances of each case.  The courts look at multiple factors when determining income imputation.  Some of those factors include, but (as always) are not limited to: the nature of the party’s unemployment or underemployment (can it be classified as “voluntary”), earning capacity, education level, prior work history, and whether or not you are actively looking for gainful employment. 

More information on child support can be found at


  1. I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information.
    Not Guilty

  2. Reducing your income intentionally to avoid child support is a bad idea. Courts will ensure that children are properly supported using imputed income. But it will depend on a few other factors too. The court will enquire about the reason for voluntarily unemployment or underemployment. The court will also inquire if there are any other assets that may be used to pay support. For all this procedure, you need to consult one of the Best Lawyers available.

  3. I truly like your interpretation of the issue. I now have an unmistakable thought on what this matter is about.. Family Law