Child Support is determined in the State of Florida by using a formula which is contained in Florida Statutes 61.30. While it seems easy to determine someone’s child support obligation, it is deciding on the numbers that go into the formula that is the hard part. It can be especially more difficult when one of the parents is unemployed or is self-employed.
The factors that determine a person’s child support obligation include the following:
- The parents’ gross income.
- The amount of deductions from gross income for each parent. (These deductions include any taxes, mandatory union dues, mandatory retirement payments, health insurance payments for that parent, court-ordered support for other children which is actually paid).
- The timesharing schedule that the Court orders or the parties agree to.
- The cost of health insurance premiums for the minor children.
- The cost of day care or child care costs which are incurred due to a parent’s employment, job search, or education.
What income does the Court use if a person is unemployed and not working?
If a person’s unemployment or underemployed is voluntary then the Court can impute an income to that individual. Voluntary unemployment or underemployment exists when a person either chooses not to work, chooses a job which pays less than what they could earn if they worked to their full capability or they have not engaged in bona fide efforts to seek employment. If a Court decides to impute income, then the Court will determine the person’s income to be that of what they are capable of earning. To determine the appropriate amount of income to impute the Court will consider their recent work history, occupational qualifications and prevailing earnings in the community. In order to impute income to a person, it is often necessary to hire a vocational expert who can testify as to the prevailing earnings in the community and the availability of jobs.
What happens if the other parent owns their own business?
Under these circumstances it is very important to employ an attorney who has experience in cases where one party is self-employed. Determining a self-employed person’s income can depend on what sort of legal entity they have an interest in (i.e. sole proprietorship, corporation, Limited Liability Company, etc.), the tax effect of the form of ownership and to what extent the self-employer deducts personal expenses from the business. To properly determine a self-employed person’s income, a full investigation must be made of that person’s business affairs including their tax returns, bank statements and all other information regarding the business. Often times self-employed persons do not keep good books and it is thus the attorney’s job to present a clear picture of the person’s income to the Court.