Can a Florida trial court lawfully enforce a provision in a marital settlement agreement that imputes future income to one of the spouses for purposes of calculating child support? Consider the following hypothetical: husband and wife were married for three years during which the wife remained out of the workforce to give birth to the parties' two children. At the time of divorce, the parties entered into a marital settlement agreement,' which provided the wife with rehabilitative alimony for a three-year period post divorce. The parties further agreed that at the end of the rehabilitative alimony period, a minimum of $50,000 income would be imputed to the wife, based on her last date of employment, for the purpose of calculating child support. The imputation would take effect upon the termination of the wife's rehabilitative alimony-nearly three years after the entry of the final judgment of dissolution and, more significantly, nearly six years since the wife's last date of employment. In that same period of time, the wife changed careers and remained involuntarily unemployed due to unforeseeable economic conditions.
The key issue in the case is the validity of the provision of the MSA that purports to impute income to the wife three years post divorce and six years after her last date of employment. If, at the end of her rehabilitative alimony period, the wife files a Supplemental Petition for Modification of Child Support based upon her involuntary unemployment, will the court enforce the parties' agreement? Is the wife stuck with a "bad fiscal bargain" resulting from the imputation of income as set forth in the parties' marital settlement agreement? Is the imputation a bad but, in the husband's view, nonetheless valid and enforceable provision of the MSA? Or, does the executory imputation of income that is now currently unavailable to the wife due to prevailing economic conditions function as a partial waiver of child support in contravention of Florida's strong public policy against such waivers?
Timothy L. Arcaro,
The Illusory Imputation of Income in Marital Settlement Agreements: "The Future Ain't What It Used to Be"
Available at: http://nsuworks.nova.edu/law_facarticles/37