Often times in divorce, one party refuses to stay employed or remains underemployed for what they think is a way to reduce the child support that they would be ordered to pay by the Judge. Underemployed means that they purposely take a job that pays less that the type of job they are qualified for and can actually obtain. Some situations I have seen are where a spouses loses a job during the divorce and then does not exercise diligent efforts to obtain another job.
While people might think they are being clever, in fact the court has the ability to impute income to a person who engages in such actions. In every case involving child support, the Court must make a finding as to the person’s income. If a person is purposely unemployed, underemployed or again has not exercise diligent efforts to seek a new job, then the court can order that the person’s income be determined at a figure which is equal to what they are capable of making. This is called imputing income.
When imputing income, the Florida Statutes requires that the Court take certain factors into consideration. These factors include the person’s recent work history, occupational qualifications, and prevailing earnings level in the community. You have to prove to the court what job your spouse is capable of performing based on their work experience, education, etc. Then you must prove that there are available jobs in the local community and what the rate of pay is for those jobs. Sometimes, it is extremely beneficial to bring a vocational expert into court to testify. The expert can assist in several ways. The expert can give an opinion on the quality of the job search. The expert can also provide evidence as to the job that the spouse is capable of performing and what level of income that person should be imputed to.