In order to impute income to a voluntarily unemployed or underemployed spouse, the party seeking to impute income must prove that there are current and available employment opportunities for which the spouse is qualified.  The spouse’s employment potential and probable earnings are based upon the spouse’s recent work history, occupational qualifications and the prevailing earnings level in the community.

In a case captioned Douglas v. Douglas, the husband appealed several of the rulings that the trial court made in the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.  The parties were married for eight years.  They were the parents of two children.  The wife was a stay-at-home mother, who took care of the parties’ children during the course of the marriage.  She did not work outside of the marital home during the marriage.  After the parties separated, the wife unsuccessfully applied for over thirty jobs during the parties’ separation.

The husband was a professional basketball player. During his career, he played for the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors and the Miami Heat.  Recently, the husband played on a number of European teams.  The wife filed the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

The husband argued that the trial court erred in failing to impute income to the wife.  The Florida Court of Appeal held that a party seeking to impute income to the other spouse has the burden of proof to show that the other spouse is employable and that jobs are available in the community for which that spouse is qualified.  The party seeking to impute income must present evidence concerning salaries that are currently being paid for jobs that are available in the relevant geographical area for which the recipient spouse is qualified.  In the Douglas v. Douglas case, the husband presented some national employment statistics, however, the husband failed to offer evidence concerning jobs that were locally available and the salaries that were being paid to persons with the wife’s qualifications.  Absent this evidence, the Florida Court of Appeal ruled that the trial court cannot impute income to a recipient spouse.

The Florida Court of Appeal also addressed two issues involved in the award of retroactive alimony and child support. The appellate court stated that in order to award retroactive temporary support, a trial court is required to determine the recipient spouse’s need for support during the timeframe in which the retroactive temporary support was requested and the precise amount of the support that was required.  Where a recipient spouse withdraws funds from a joint marital account for purposes of spousal and child support during the parties’ separation, the payor receives credit for having provided support during this time period.

Finally, the Florida Court of Appeal ruled that a trial court cannot require a parent to pay for the college expenses of an adult child unless the parties have agreed to this obligation in a marital settlement agreement.

To speak with a Wellington, Florida divorce attorney to discuss alimony issues, contact the Lane Law Firm, P.A.