Imputation of Income

One issue that comes up often in family law cases is imputation of income for child support calculation purposes. It is often asked whether money received by family members can be considered "income" when the amount of child support to be paid or owed is being determined. The Fourth District Court of Appeal recently wrote an opinion about this issue. In this case, called Steele v. Love, the husband was receiving money from his parents, and he did not think that this money should be considered income for a child support calculation.

Usually, he would be correct. However, the husband in this case was receiving regular, periodic payments for nineteen months from his parents. They were paying for his living expenses while he started a new business. At the trial, the husband's father stated that he might not continue to make these payments forever, but that he would continue to help his son for as long as he could.

Florida Statutes section 61.30(2)(a)(13) states with specificity that any "reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses" are to be considered gross income when determining the amount of child support in a case. In Steele v. Love, the appellate court decided that the trial court was correct, and that the payments received by the husband from his father were income according to the law.

This issue is common in divorce cases, as when parties begin to feel the financial strain of the divorce, their families often lend financial assistance to make sure that everyone's basic needs are met. It is important to understand the potential impact that this type of assistance can have on your divorce, as well as the impact of what can and cannot be considered income.