Child Support Guidelines §61.29, Fla. Stat. Part 9 of 18| Divorce Attorney Fort Myers/Cape Coral
- 61.29, Fla. Stat., provides for child support guidelines principles. These principles do not affect the actual computation of the child support itself, but provide the following:
- Each parent has a fundamental obligation to support his or her minor or legally dependent child.
- The guideline schedule is based on the parents’ combined net incomes estimated to have been allocated to the child as if parents and children were living in an intact household.
- The guidelines encourage fair and efficient settlement of support issues between parents and minimize the need for litigation.
Below please find some general information regarding child support and how it is calculated.
Imputation of Income
- Monthly income shall be imputed to an unemployed or underemployed parent if the unemployment or underemployment is voluntary. A finding of physical or mental incapacity or other circumstances over which the parent has no control is not considered voluntary. § 61.30(b), Fla. Stat.; Niekamp v. Niekamp, 40 Fla. L. Weekly D1961a) (Fla. 2d DCA 2015)
- Upon a finding that the parent is voluntarily unemployed / underemployed, earnings shall be imputed based upon recent work history, occupational qualifications, and prevailing earnings level in the community, if such information is available. § 61.30(b), Fla. Stat. Thompson v. Malicki, 40 Fla. Law Weekly D1593a (Fla. 2nd DCA 2015)
- If a parent’s income is unavailable, or if a parent fails to participate in a child support proceeding, or fails to supply adequate financial information in a child support proceeding, income shall automatically be imputed to the parent. There is a rebuttable presumption that the parent has income equivalent to the median income of year-round full-time workers as derived from the current population reports or replacement reports published by the United States Bureau of the Census. 61.30, Fla. Stat. See Dept. of Revenue o/b/o Williams v. Annis, 159 So.3d 263 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2015)
- To find the tables for median earnings in Florida for year-round full time workers, go to www.factfinder.census.gov. Under “Community Facts,” type in Florida. On Florida page, the left margin offers various options. Select “income.” From that option, select “Earnings past 12 months.”
- The party seeking to impute income at an amount other than the median income has the burden to present competent, substantial evidence that:
- The unemployment or underemployment is voluntary; and
- Identifies the amount and source of the imputed income, through evidence of income from available employment for which the party is suitably qualified by education, experience, current licensure, or geographic location, with due consideration being given to the parties’ time-sharing schedule and their historical exercise of the time-sharing provided in the parenting plan or relevant order. 61.30(2)(b)(1)(a, b), Fla. Stat.
- Except when imputation of income applies due to unavailability of income information, or when a parent fails to participate in a child support proceeding, or fails to supply adequate financial information and the Census Bureau information is automatically applied, the court may not impute income based upon:
- Income records that are more than 5 years old at the time of the hearing or trial at which imputation is sought; or
- Income at a level that a party has never earned in the past, unless recently degreed, licensed, certified, relicensed, or recertified and thus qualified for, subject to geographic location, with due consideration of the parties’ existing time-sharing schedule and their historical exercise of the time-sharing provided in the parenting plan or relevant order. §61.30(2)(b)(2), Fla. Stat.
- The standard of review governing a trial court’s imputation of income, for child support purposes, is whether the determination is supported by competent, substantial evidence.
- Imputation of income is a two-step process: 1) The court must determine that the unemployment/ underemployment is voluntary. 2) Determine whether any subsequent unemployment / underemployment resulted from pursuit of the spouse’s own interests, or through less than diligent and bona fide efforts. Cash v. Cash, 122 So.3d 430 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2013)
- Burden of Proof: The party seeking to impute income to the other party bears the burden of proof. Torres v. Torres, 98 So.3d 1171 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2011). Factual findings required.
- Early retirement without proof of medical testimony will be considered voluntary, and will trigger imputation of income. Ballard v. Ballard, 39 Fla. L. Weekly D 1670 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014).
- A trial court may impute income for purposes of child support for the rental value of a house in which that parent lives rent free, and owned by his or her parents. Posner v. Posner, 940 So.2d 524 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010).
- For purposes of calculating child support, imputation of income is appropriate where a party is willfully earning less and has the capacity to earn more by use of best efforts. Hornyak v. Hornyak, 48 So.3d 858 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010).
- Mother was voluntarily unemployed, in choosing to remain home with her second child. It was appropriate to impute income to her to support her first child who was living with the father. Dep’t of Revenue ex rel. Marqutte v. Hennessey, 812 So.2d 442 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2001).
- Because no showing was made that the incarcerated parent had the capacity to earn the amount of income imputed to him while incarcerated, the imputation of income was reversed. Waugh v. Waugh, 679 So.2d 1 (Fla. 2nd DCA 1996).
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