In general, every parent has a financial responsibility for the well-being of their child. Since child support is calculated based on both parents’ incomes and the amount of timesharing each parent has with the minor child, one parent may have a child support obligation that will be paid to the other parent. As explained in more detail below, when a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed and/or receives recurring financial assistance from family and friends, income may be imputed to such parent for purposes of determining his or her child support obligation.
Voluntarily Unemployed or Underemployed Parent
In a situation where one parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, income may be imputed to that parent. The child support amount will continue to accrue until it is paid. If child support is not paid, there are various enforcement methods available through the courts.
Financial Assistance From Family and Friends
During dissolution of marriage or paternity proceeding, family and friends are frequently eager to provide financial assistance to their loved ones who are involved in the litigation; however, they may be hesitant to do so because they aren’t sure whether their financial assistance will be considered by the Court in determining a party’s child support obligation. Generally, the financial assistance of family and friends will not be considered in determining a party’s child support obligation. Schmachtenberg v. Schmachtenberg, 34 So. 3d 28 (3d DCA. 2010). Courts have imputed the financial assistance of family and friends to a party, however, if the financial assistance is ongoing (i.e. not sporadic) and reduces the party’s living expenses.
A court will likely find the payment of a party’s monthly bills to be ongoing financial assistance. In order to avoid this result, family or friends should consider providing financial assistance in the form of cash or a check on a one-time basis. One-time financial assistance should not be deemed to be ongoing financial assistance even if a substantial amount of money is given to the party.
Family and friends can also loan money to a party to a divorce proceeding. Any financial assistance that is expected to be paid back will not be imputed to a party. If you are interested in providing (or accepting) financial assistance in the form of a loan, it is important to execute a promissory note that sets forth the terms of the loan so that you have evidence that the financial assistance was not a gift.