Measuring Income In Family Law Cases

By Orlando Family Law Attorney Eduardo J. Mejias

 Practicing Exclusively Family Law Since 2011


Income Affects The Outcome Of Divorce, Paternity, Modifications and DCF Dependency Cases

In family law, the income of our clients is open to rigorous scrutiny by lawyers and family court judges. And the income of each of the parties in a case impacts the outcome of divorces, paternity, modification actions and even DCF child dependency cases. Since people are typically uncomfortable discussing their income with strangers, this is a sensitive topic to our clients.

In divorce or paternity cases involving the time-sharing of children, each parent’s net monthly income is factored into the Child Support Guidelines established by Section 61.30 of Florida Statutes.

In divorces, with or without children, the spouses' incomes largely (but not entirely) determine whether alimony is available, and if so, how much it should be.

In dependency cases, the Department of Children and Families (DCF), regardless of why they initially filed a petition, always seeks verification of an offending parent’s income before agreeing to a reunification.

How Florida Family Courts Measure Each Type of Income

Fixed Income

Individuals who earn a fixed or very stable weekly, bi-weekly or monthly income usually just have to complete a financial affidavit and produce their most recent pay stub.

Commissions and Tips

Family court judges will simply examine the party’s last three annual tax returns, and if all other factors are equal, establish the average annual commission for that person. If the individual has only worked at a commissioned sales job for less than two years, the court will perform the same function with several months of pay stubs.

Courts realize that restaurant servers and other types of service providers rely heavily on tips. Thus, family court judges will treat a litigant’s tips the same way they do commissions: by arriving at an average. 

Bonuses

Yes, family courts will consider your bonus in family law cases, even if it is not necessarily a monthly or annual occurrence. While no exact threshold exists, if you’re more likely than not to receive a bonus at a certain point in the year, it will be considered income for child support and alimony purposes.

Expense Allowances

These allowances are also considered income. In fact, Section 61.30 of Florida Statutes expressly includes allowances (whether for permanent housing or lodging) as income. This holds true even when the employee never actually receives the allowance because the employer pays it directly to landlord or hotel.

Alimony and Child Support From a Prior Marriage

Alimony is considered income, but child support is not.

Other Issues

Two other income issues sometimes dominate a family law case. Read about these in  Family Law On Imputed Income For Underemployment and Business Income In A Divorce.

Schedule An Initial Consultation From Experienced Divorce Attorney

If you are involved in situation that may require a family law attorney, I encourage you to call AAA Family Law at (407) 260-6001 and schedule an initial consultation.

At the consultation I will (1) carefully listen to your description of the situation, (2) present you with a plan of legal action to address the issues you are facing and (3) quote you an attorney retention fee that will be a fixed or flat amount that you will know before you sign a contract or make a payment, not an hourly rate whose total payment is unpredictable.

These are the ranges off attorney retainer fees for the types of family law cases mentioned on this page.  The actual amount of the fee within these ranges depends on how complex is the case.

Contested Divorce Up To Mediation: $2,000 to $3,000. (An additional retainer amount is set before a trial if there is a trial.)

Uncontested Divorce: $1,000 to $1,500.

Paternity Cases: $1,750 to $2,500. (An additional retainer amount is set before a trial if there is a trial.)

Department of Children & Families Dependency: $3,000 to $5,000.

Post-Judgment Modification of Decrees: $1,500 to $2,500.


For more information on attorney retainer fees pleas click on Family Lawyer Retainer Fees.


To find more information on Family Law topics, please go to the Articles section.