Can You Be Forced to Get a Job? Imputing Income In Child Support Cases
While parents have the legal responsibility to provide financially for their children’s needs, getting them to actually follow through can be a challenge. In many cases, a child support order is required in order to make the other parent pay. Unfortunately, this can end up as a personal battle of wills between you and your former partner, and they may stubbornly refuse to get a job in order to spite you, even if it does end up ultimately depriving their children of a better quality of life. In these situations, the court cannot make a person go out and get a job, but they can order a set child support amount that is due every month. It is then up to that parent to either obtain employment or figure out some other way of paying, or they will face legal enforcement actions.
Imputing Child Support Amounts
Under Section 61.30 of the Florida State Statutes, the court has strict guidelines in determining a parent’s obligation to pay child support. Factors that may be considered in determining amounts include any parenting plans in effect, which dictate the amount of time the child spends at each parent’s home. The judge will also consider the costs of providing basic food, shelter, and health insurance for the child, along with meeting their financial needs in regards to their educational, developmental, and social needs. In creating an order, each parent’s monthly income must be disclosed, which includes any earnings from the following sources:
- Sales and wages;
- Tips, commissions, bonuses, and deferred payments;
- Business income from being self employment or an independent contractor;
- Social Security, disability and Veterans benefits;
- Workers’ compensation payments due to job related injuries or illnesses;
- Money earned through pensions, annuities, and retirement benefits;
- Profits from stocks and investments;
- Spousal support received due to a prior marriage.
If the parent who is required to pay child support claims not to have a job, the judge may impute income as a basis for the child support order. This is an amount based on their education, training, and skill – in other words, what they could potentially be earning if they did get a job.
Enforcement of Child Support Orders
Once income has been imputed and child support payments are set, the amount ordered will become due each month regardless of whether the parent has a job or is able to pay. If they fall behind on their commitment, they can be held in contempt of court. In some cases, they may even face a potential jail sentence. The Florida Department of Revenue may also seize assets to satisfy past due amounts, such as:
- Tax refunds;
- Lottery winnings;
- Workers’ compensation benefits;
- Money in bank accounts;
- Any earnings or wages they do receive.
Children suffer needlessly when parents refuse to pay child support obligations. For help with establishing or enforcing these types of orders, contact attorney Vanessa L. Prieto to schedule a consultation in our Fort Lauderdale office today.