Divorce Attorney Marcie Baker Explains Imputed Income For Alimony Judgments

Law Firm Newswire



Zephyrhills, FL (Law Firm Newswire) September 13, 2013 – Alimony awards are often the most contentious part of a divorce settlement. Income may be imputed – that is, attributed – to voluntarily unemployed persons for purposes of calculating alimony awards.

Most individuals are capable of some kind of gainful employment. Many who are incapable, are beneficiaries of some kind of government assistance. But as Zephyrhills divorce attorney Marcie Baker points out, it is often the potential, more so than the reality, that influences the award of alimony.

“If a spouse is capable of earning a living, the salary they might reasonably be expected to attain may be imputed to them, therefore reducing the amount of alimony they would otherwise be awarded, regardless of their actual employment history,” Baker said.

Section 61.08 of the Florida Statutes addresses alimony. In order for alimony to be awarded, one party must have a need for alimony, and the other must have the ability to pay. Given those facts, all relevant factors will be considered to arrive at an alimony judgment. Those factors include, but are not limited to, “all sources of income available to either party” and “earning capacity, educational level and employability of the parties and, if applicable, time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to find appropriate employment.”

The Florida divorce of Broemer v. Broemer is a recent example of a case in which income was imputed. Mary and Thomas Broemer divorced in 2012. Mary had not been employed since 1993. She did not have a high school diploma. Thomas hired an occupational expert, who testified that Mary could obtain employment at $15,196 per year even without a diploma, but could easily obtain a GED, which would allow her to find a job earning up to $20,000 per year.

Mary’s physician testified that she had carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists and “essential tremor,” a shaking condition, and could not perform any job requiring her to repeatedly lift 20 pounds or more. Mary argued that she could not get a job because of her condition.

The court imputed income to Mary of $15,000 per year for alimony calculations, pointing out that she had made no effort to secure work and had also never applied for Social Security or disability.

“The burden of proof in cases such as this lies with the party who wishes to impute income to the other,” Baker added. “This is a job for a seasoned divorce attorney who understands the standards of evidence.”