What Can Judges Specifically Consider in Calculating Alimony & Child Support Payments?
While we have previously touched on what determines how much alimony and child support you have to pay (or receive) in Florida, as divorce and family law attorneys, we regularly receive a number of detailed questions about what judges consider—specifically—when it comes to income and these issues.
Any Earned Income
In a nutshell, judges have some leeway when it comes to making these determinations. In addition to taking into account what state law dictates, for example, courts usually consider any type of earned income or other compensation the supporting spouse receives; along with other income; including any passive income, such as investments.
For example, some of these specific categories might include:
- Corporate contributions to retirement accounts;
- Carried interest;
- Deferred compensation;
- Partnership distributions;
- Bonuses and/or any other perks related to employment; and
Anything Unreported & Potential to Earn
However, there are also a number of other factors and sources considered when it comes to determining alimony and child support. For example, courts can look beyond just your most recently filed federal income tax return and at any income that is not reported to the IRS, such as owned property. Courts can also take into account the potential to earn more in deciding that the supporting spouse could obtain a higher paying job, especially if that spouse was at one time working in a position more consistent with their potential to earn a higher income. In this endeavor, the courts can also look to any financial support provided by family numbers.
Courts Look Beyond Just The Last Year
Some individuals will try to manipulate their income so as to appear that they make less than they actually do before going to court. However, it is important to remember that the courts do not just look at the last year, but rather, what was made over the last few years, and they can always remove an outlying year in calculating averages.
Take This Into Account In Determining Your Strategy
As a result, there are a number of methods that you can use to work with your attorney and come to a supportive agreement that is favorable; methods such as:
- Taking into account the timing of your divorce and how this might be affected by your income, especially if you anticipate receiving a bonus at some particular point;
- Perhaps working on a settlement that is asset-heavy if your concern is future cash flow, as this could lower your overall support obligations; and
- Ensuring that you work into any agreement a modification provision, whereby your support obligation is reevaluated in case your income decreases in the future (although keep in mind that this could work against you if, instead, your income increases at that time, and this also mandates that you continue to share your income information with your ex).
Contact Our Florida Family Law Attorneys for Assistance
In general, you and your attorney should be prepared for the court to look at all your sources of income in evaluating your potential to make these payments. If have any questions about how alimony and child support payments are determined, contact our experienced Orlando divorce attorneys at Arwani Law Firm, PLLC today.