Under Florida family law, a court must defer to the Florida Child Support Guidelines when determining how much child support should be paid. The Guidelines prescribe the amount of support to be paid based on the net income and number of children involved. In most cases, a Florida family law court will follow the Florida Child Support Guidelines; however, the court does have discretion to deviate from the guidelines. For instance, if a parent is hiding income to avoid child support the court can impute income to that parent. The court can also impute income if a parent is unemployed or underemployed. Cases involving imputation of income are often highly contested and can be very complex. Therefore, you should seek the advice of a Tampa family law attorney if you need assistance with a case where the parent is hiding income to avoid child support.
Imputation of Income When a Parent is Hiding Income to Avoid Child Support
Under Florida family law, when a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed the court shall impute income to that parent based on the employment potential and probable earning capacity of the parent. See Florida child support case Guard v. Guard. When imputing income for cases where a parent is hiding income to avoid child support or is unemployed, the court will consider the parent’s recent work history, qualifications, and prevailing income level in the community.
The family law judge must make specific factual findings based on evidence relating to the current job market, the parent’s employment history, and prevailing salary in the local community in order to impute income. If there is sufficient evidence to support the court’s imputation of income it will not be reversed on appeal without a finding that the court abused its discretion. See Rojas v. Rojas. Admitting sufficient evidence can be difficult, you should seek the advise of an experienced family law firm in Tampa for legal counsel.
Two-Part Test for Imputation of Income When a Parent is Hiding Income to Avoid Child Support
Before a Florida family law court imputes income in cases where a parent is hiding income to avoid child support a two-part test must be applied. First, there must be a determination that the lack of employment or reduction in income was voluntary. Next, the court must determine whether or not the loss of income resulted from the parent’s pursuit of his or her own interest or is due to a less than diligent and bona fide effort to obtain employment, at an income level equal to what the parent could earn. See Florida child support case Schram v. Schram.
In determining whether or not to impute income when a parent is hiding income to avoid child support, Florida courts focus less on whether the parent left his or her previous employment voluntarily or involuntarily and more on what the parent has done since the prior employment. For instance, whether the parent has remained unemployed voluntarily or has made a bona fide good faith effort to find employment. The child support lawyer seeking to impute income will have the burden of proving the income should be imputed to the other parent based on the two-part test above.
How to Calculate Child Support When a Parent is Hiding Income to Avoid Child Support
In cases where a parent is hiding income to avoid child support, the amount of child support will be based on the net monthly income imputed to the parent. Net monthly income is determined by subtracting the allowable deductions from the imputed gross monthly income. In all child support cases, the amount of child support must be reasonable and not require a parent to pay more than he or she can afford. See Florida family law case Moss v. Moss.
If the court deviates from the amount outlined in the Child Support Guidelines by more than 5% a written explanation by the court will be required. Further, if the written explanation is not supported by sufficient evidence it may be subject to appeal by a child support lawyer. When deciding whether or not to deviate from the Guidelines, the court will consider all relevant factors, including but not limited to: the needs of the child, standard of living, each parent’s age, and the financial status of each parent. See Florida child support law 61.30.
Family Law Firm in Tampa
The family law firm in Tampa you retain can make an impact in a child support case. If you are contemplating filing for divorce, child support, or modifying an existing child support order contact Florida law Advisers to speak with a Tampa family law attorney. The child support lawyers at Florida Law Advisers, P.A. have extensive experience in both advocating for and against imputation of income when a parent is hiding income to avoid child support. With years of experience in family law litigation we are more than ready to present a compelling case on your behalf and to stand firm for what is fair. If you would like to speak with a divorce lawyer at our firm call us today at 800 990 7763 to schedule a free initial consultation.