In a divorce that takes place in Florida, as in every other U.S. state, it is important for each party to have as accurate a picture of their joint and individual financial states as possible. This is so that each spouse can accurately determine what they believe that they are entitled to in the division of assets.

If the parties cannot settle and the divorce goes to trial, the judge will be interested in the spouses’ assets and income levels as well. But the court may consider more than actual income. “Imputed” income is also a factor in many divorces.

Basically, “imputation of income” is a process through which the court attempts to predict how much money a person could be earning in the future. This often comes up when one spouse is asking for alimony or child support. The idea is to determine whether someone who is currently unemployed or underemployed has the potential to quickly begin earning a higher income — perhaps reducing or eliminating his or her need for support.

The court has the power to appoint an expert to evaluate a spouse’s imputed income. The expert may consider obvious clues like the spouse’s earning history from the recent past. Other factors can include the spouse’s age, education, skills and health — all things that can affect how easy it will be for the person to find a new or better job.

The evaluator then testifies about his or her findings to the judge, who takes that testimony into account when setting spousal support, child support and so on.

Source: Palm Beach Post, “Working the system: Imputation of Income,” Robin Roshkind, Oct. 24, 2013