In a recently decided alimony case captioned Barlow v. Barlow, the Florida Court of Appeal ruled that a trial court should utilize the most recent income figures available in calculating alimony and child support and not rely on past earnings. In this case the Husband appealed the trial court’s ruling concerning the calculation of alimony and child support and the division of marital assets. The Court of Appeal ruled that the lower court made a mistake in calculating the Husband’s bonus income. The Court reversed the lower court’s ruling and required the trial court to retry the case.
The Husband and Wife agreed on the amount of the Husband’s base salary at the time of the divorce in 2015. In calculating the Husband’s income, the trial court utilized the Husband’s bonus in 2013, rather than utilizing the Husband’s bonus in 2014. The Florida alimony statute requires courts to take into consideration all sources of income available to both parties in awarding alimony. The Florida child support statute requires courts to include bonus income in calculating child support.
Income from bonuses should be utilized in calculating alimony and child support when the bonuses are continuous and regular. Here the trial court used the Husband’s 2013 bonus in calculating support payments. The trial court utilized this amount because it was the last bonus that the Husband received prior to the date of the filing of the divorce. The Court of Appeal held that the lower court should have utilized Husband’s 2014 bonus, which was the most recent bonus that the Husband earned prior to the date of the trial. A party’s most current income, or income that is expected to be earned in the near future, should be used in calculating alimony and child support awards. Past income figures should not be utilized when the Court has access to current figures. In the case at bar, the Court incorrectly utilized bonus income figures from 2013, instead of using current income figures from 2014. The husband’s bonus in 2014 was significantly lower than in 2013. The Court held that the final judgment should reflect the fact that the husband’s income was reduced. The Court of Appeal reversed the lower court and instructed the trial court to recalculate alimony and child support.
To speak with an alimony attorney in Wellington, Florida, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 651-7273.