(i) In a modification of child support case, the fact that the former wife’s bills are being paid by her new husband may be considered as part of her gross income in calculating child support. In a recent case captioned Thompson v. Malicki the Florida Court of Appeals had before it a case where the former wife sought to relocate the parties’ children, modify the parties’ custody and visitation schedule with the children, and modify child support. The Former Wife wanted to move the parties’ children from Charlotte County to Palm Beach County, Florida so that she and they could live with her new husband. The lower court denied the relocation but permitted a modification of child support.
The lower court imputed income to the former wife. The Court of Appeal stated that income can be imputed to an unemployed parent when that parent is not physically or mentally incapacitated. When income is imputed, the court is to consider the parents employment potential and the parent’s most probable earning level based on the parent’s recent work history, qualifications, and earnings level in the current job market in the community in which the parent lives. A court may not rely solely on past earnings in making a determination as to the appropriate amount of income to impute.
Additionally, the Court of Appeal also held that in a modification of child support case, where a former spouse’s expenses are being paid by a new spouse, such payments may be considered to be gross income to the recipient spouse. These payments are considered to be income to the extent that they reduce the recipient’s living expenses.
In Thompson v. Malicki the Florida Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s ruling because it was not supported by sufficient fact finding by the court and because it was not supported by sufficient evidence. The matter was remanded to the trial court to obtain additional evidence and recalculate child support.
To speak with an family law attorney in Jupiter, Florida, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 651-7273.