In paternity unwed/unmarried parents cases, gifts from the paying party's family members and gifts from the paying party's boyfriends and girlfriend may be included in calculating the paying party's income. In a recently decided case captioned Wood v. Wood, the father started working for a company owned by his girlfriend. In his financial affidavit the father listed his monthly income. The trial court found that the father earned a salary from the father's employment, but also believed that another source was paying the father's expenses. The trial court imputed additional income to the father from his family and from his girlfriend. When the case was presented to the Florida Court of Appeal, the father argued that the trial court misunderstood his financial circumstances and argued that the trial court's ruling was erroneous. The Court of Appeal agreed with the father and found that the trial court's ruling was based on speculation. The Florida Court of Appeal and reversed the lower court's ruling.
The Court of Appeal ruled that in a paternity action, a party's income includes expenses that are reimbursed if they reduce living expenses. In imputing income, a trial court is required to make a specific determination as to the exact amounts of the reimbursed expenses. When gifts from family members and friends are ongoing and continuing and it is shown that they will occur in the future, they may be included in calculating a party's income for purposes of calculating child support.
In this case, the Court of Appeal found that the evidence did not warrant a finding that the father received additional income from his family or from his girlfriend. The Court of Appeal found that the evidence did not warrant the conclusion that the parents' gifts to the father would continue into the future. Additionally, there was no evidence that the girlfriend reimbursed the husband's expenses.
To speak with an attorney for unwed/unmarried parents in Florida, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 651-7273.