What is Voluntary Underemployment?
In plain English, voluntary underemployment is when an individual chooses to not work for pay or to work at a job that does not reflect that person’s skills, abilities, or education. But why would this make a difference in a Family Law case involving child support or alimony? As long as a person is managing on the income available to them, what difference does it make? In the state of Florida, for example, it does make a difference, which is spelled out in Florida Statute 61 covering dissolution of marriage (divorce), child support, and parental timesharing (custody). By looking at some essential definitions and reflecting on how the amount of child support and alimony is determined it will be seen that voluntary underemployment can make a big difference. A person may even be subject to a monetary decision based on imputed income, sometimes requiring a job change if one is to meet their child support or alimony payments or be able to live on the income these payments provide.
Voluntary: When used in reference to underemployment, indicates an individual’s unpressured choice to work in a job with less income and/or responsibilities than the individual is capable of.
Underemployment: Sometimes the job market is such that more appropriate employment taking advantage of one’s education, skills, and/or experience is just not available or perhaps providing stay-at-home child care makes good sense in deference to paying another provider. Unfortunately, there are persons who voluntarily choose to be underemployed to make it appear they need more alimony or child support. Or, on the other side, a person hopes to show they cannot pay the child support or alimony needed to meet state requirements.
Imputed income: This is income, which could be earned if a person were employed in a situation more suitable to their abilities. In a sense it is a form of projected income which the court will sometimes use to determine the actual amount of alimony or child support awarded either in the original dissolution of marriage or at a modification.
Florida Statute 61: This statute contains all the guidelines and laws pertaining to dissolution of marriage (divorce) including child support and alimony. This can be read in entirety by going on line. Here you will find voluntary underemployment defined in regards to how child support and alimony can be awarded. Each case is different, but it is not uncommon for a judge to order one or both parties to find a job, which better meets the financial needs of their dissolution of marriage. Even in cases where a parent really wants to stay home to be a full time parent, sometimes that person is ordered to find a job in order to help provide support for minor children. Too, alimony can be denied or reduced if a party chooses not to be employed to their potential. When the person paying volunteers to be underemployed they are sometimes ordered to pay more than their present income warrants, an amount based on imputed income.
When deciding to seek a dissolution of marriage or child support (parents do not have to be married to receive or to pay child support) or when seeking modification of a marital agreement, it is imperative to locate an experienced Family Law attorney to help pursue your case and be able to explain the ins and outs including the ramifications of being voluntarily underemployed. If you live in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, or Orange County in Florida or in Washington DC you will find Attorney Grant Gisondo an experienced Family Law attorney able to guide you through child support and/or alimony. Attorney Gisondo practices in Palm Beach Gardens. He offers a free, initial, in-office consultation where he will meet with you personally to answer questions and explain how he can help. And. if you are a new client, he has office hours on Saturday from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm. Call (561) 530-4568
for an appointment. Attorney Gisondo comes highly recommended. On his website, https://gisondolaw.com you can read about his practice and see the positive comments from both well satisfied clients and his legal peers.