Divorce in the Time of Coronavirus
When is the Right Time to File for Divorce?
There is no one size fits all solution for Florida couples seeking a divorce. There are many
considerations depending on your circumstances. For example, if you and your spouse are in
agreement on how to handle your divorce, you may not want to file for divorce until you
formalize that agreement in writing. Then you may be able to file an uncontested divorce case,
which can be completed in as little as 21 days.
If you have recently lost your job or had your hours reduced, you may be afraid to file for
divorce. But there are several things to consider that may weigh in favor of filing sooner rather
than later. For example, alimony and child support amounts are calculated based on the
income of each spouse. But in Florida you can’t quit your job on purpose to avoid paying
alimony or child support. This is called “voluntary” unemployment and the court can assume
your income is the same amount you used to earn before you quit. This is known as “imputing”
When a job loss is involuntary, however, a Florida court may not simply impute income based
on your old job. The court must rely on substantial competent evidence that proves the
amount of money that you have the present ability to earn in your local community. Previously,
courts would simply look at your educational background and work history, and impute income
to you based on potential available jobs in the local area, often based on the testimony of an
expert witness known as a vocational expert. The income imputed to you was frequently the
same or even more than you earned previously.
In this time of coronavirus, however, many people are experiencing unprecedented reductions
in their income that are not only involuntary, but potentially permanent. No one can predict
the length of time that these economic dislocations will last. Some industries may never fully
recover. It is unclear how the Florida courts will handle determinations of income in divorce
cases in the coming months, but it seems clear that the old methods of simply imputing income
based on previous work experience will need to adapt to the evolving workplace realities that
jobseekers will be facing.
If you want to gain a better understanding of divorce in Florida, call or email Miller Morse Law
to arrange a private telephone consultation today.