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Alimony Decisions That Assume That The Supported Spouse Will Re-Enter The Workforce After Divorce


Whenever possible, Florida divorce courts divide a couple’s marital assets in such a way that neither spouse will require alimony from the other.  If one spouse has little or no income, though, alimony is often the only choice.  In order to determine how much money the supported spouse needs, though, the court must determine how much the supported spouse is capable of earning.  The court may determine that the supported spouse is not capable of working, but this is usually only the case if the supported spouse is of retirement age or has a disability.  Imputed income is the amount of money the court determines that you can earn, based on your employment history and the average pay for your line of work in your area.  Of course, sometimes it seems like judges think it is much easier than it is to find a job after being a stay-at-home parent for years.  A Palm Beach County divorce lawyer can help you resolve disputes based on the assumption that a supported spouse will return to the workforce before or shortly after the divorce becomes final.

Entitlement, or Just a Sluggish Job Market?

For the first four years of Michael and Heather’s marriage, she worked full-time as an administrative assistant, but she left the workforce in 2005, after the parties’ first child was born.  Starting 2010, after the oldest child began attending kindergarten, Heather held a series of part-time jobs, but she never stayed at a job for very long.  When the parties divorced in 2016, she was unemployed; she claimed that she was unable to work because of her depression, and she requested permanent alimony.

Michael claimed that, because Heather was 42 years old and physically healthy, she could work, and the court ordered a vocational evaluation.  The vocational evaluator determined that heather was able to return to the work force immediately and earn at least $22,000 per year; she opined that Heather’s situational depression was a result of the divorce.  The evaluator stated that Heather needed therapy and life coaching, and that through these, she could learn to overcome her sense of “entitlement and victimization” and her tendency to blame others for her problems.  The court based its imputation of income, and therefore its alimony award, on the vocational evaluator’s assessment.  Heather appealed the decision, and the appeals court reversed the decision.  It remanded the case to the lower court, instructing the court to allow for the time it would take Heather to make progress in therapy and to find a new job.

Let Us Help You Today

Don’t let your ex-spouse present you as a gold digger just because re-entering the workforce after a long absence is more difficult than it looks.  A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you if you and your ex-spouse disagree about how quickly you can find a new job and how much you can earn.  Contact Schwartz | White for more information.



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