What is Imputing Income?
When going through a divorce, you will be confronted with many terms that are unfamiliar but your understanding of them may be crucial to your case. Your Tallahassee Divorce Attorney of course will be able to explain in detail the critical portions and terms of your divorce, and having their legal expertise in these areas is invaluable. One of the most common misunderstood or unknown terms is imputed income.
Imputed income is used by the court in two separate scenarios in a divorce case: alimony awards and child support calculations. The general term of imputing income simply involves assigning an income to a party who is either unemployed or underemployed. Therefore, an imputation of income comes before the court upon request by a party, or if the court recognizes that a party is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed to avoid financial responsibilities to their child or spouse. Voluntary unemployment is typically easy to prove, as a parent could have just recently quit a job and refuses to apply elsewhere, or is simply physically capable of working and refuses to do so. On the other hand, voluntary underemployment may be more difficult to provide evidence of. However, in these situations a spouse typically holds a degree or specialized training and instead, is pursuing a career in a lesser field. Further evidence of an underemployed spouse may be the rejection of a promotion, reduction of hours from full time to part time, or simply displaying the spouse’s prior higher earning salary.
The court may only impute income to a parent if they find the parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed and there is an absence of extenuating circumstances such as mental or physical incapacity. 61.30(b) In order to determine how much income to impute to a parent, the court will look to evidence of the parent’s past employment, education level, qualifications, community earning levels, and “potential and probable earning level of the parent.” The burden of providing this evidence is on the party wishing to impute such income. Therefore, if your partner is voluntarily underemployed, you have the burden to present to the court “the unemployment or voluntary underemployment” as well as the education, experience, qualifications etc. evidence of the parent. However, the court does limit the evidence that may be presented for imputation of income. For instance, a party may not present “income records that are more than 5 years old” or ask for an imputation of income that the parent has never earned in the past. However, this may be overcome if the parent has recently received a degree or training to increase his or her income and qualification levels.
However, if none of this information is available, and the party refuses to provide the financial information, the court can automatically impute an income level “equivalent to the median income of year-round full-time workers.” Therefore, even if your former partner refuses to provide the necessary evidence to assess the proper income to be imputed, you may still be protected, as the court can impute the median income to the parent.
However, not all unemployed individuals will be imputed income. For instance, if the court “finds it necessary for that parent to stay home with the child who is the subject of a child support calculation” the court will not impute income to this parent as they do not qualify as voluntarily unemployed. However, this only occurs mainly in situations where the child has special needs and requires constant care and supervision.
Your Tallahassee Divorce Attorney will be able to explain to you the imputation of income and if this tactic is necessary in your case. We will aid in the gathering of evidence as well as representing your needs to the court.
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