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How Does a Work Vehicle Affect Your Alimony and Child Support Obligations?


All couples who get divorced must accurately represent their assets, income, and expenses.  Sometimes valuing your assets is a straightforward matter and the parties can agree on how to distribute them in a Marital Settlement Agreement.  When the parties disagree and the court has to intervene to determine equitable distribution of marital property, sometimes the dispute is about which spouse is entitled to what share of the marital property, but sometimes the parties cannot even agree on how much each party’s income and expenses are. Work vehicles are a common point of contention.  On the one hand, the vehicle belongs to your employer, not to you, so it is not an asset subject to equitable distribution.  On the other hand, using the work vehicle reduces your expenses by the amount that you would otherwise have to spend on car payments, maintenance, and gasoline out of your own funds.  A South Florida child support lawyer can help you resolve disputes related to calculating your income and expenses for child support purposes.

You Can’t Exercise Your Parenting Time in a Patrol Car

Manuel and Mercedes divorced in 2009, at which point two of their five children were still minors.  By the time of the divorce, Manuel was earning $110,000 per year as a police detective.  Mercedes was out of the workforce for most of the marriage; she stopped working after the birth of the parties’ first child, and she went back to work as a staff member at a middle school about three years before the divorce; her income at the time of the trial was about $16,000 per year.  The court ordered Manuel to pay $3,300 per month in periodic alimony.  Since Mercedes’ job was only for ten months out of the year, the court imputed additional income to her on the assumption that she would earn minimum wage at a summer job during the months that she was not working at the school.  When calculating Manuel’s income, the court added $500 per month, equivalent to the money Manuel saved by using his police car when not on duty according to the police department’s guidelines.

Manuel appealed the judgment, arguing that the trial court erred by adding the police car use to his income without adding anything to his expenses.  While the City of Miami allows officers to use patrol cars for errands, it does not allow them to transport their children in the.  Therefore, Manuel would need to buy a personal vehicle, even if he only used it during his parenting time.  While the appeals court refused to modify the alimony and child support awards, one judge at the appeals court sided with Manuel in a dissenting opinion.

Let Us Help You Today

A Boca Raton child support lawyer can help you if your ex-spouse claims that you have more money than you actually do or that your necessary expenses are splurges.  Contact Schwartz | White for a consultation on your case.



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