Imputing income based on continuous and regular gifts from parents
In a Florida divorce, a major, relevant factor considered in setting alimony or child support awards is income earned by either party. When we think about what income is, of course, wages and salaries come to mind first. But Florida law allows the courts to consider other sources of money in some circumstances to determine how much income each spouse receives for purposes of available assets that could be used for child or spousal support.
One of those income sources can be regular, ongoing monetary gifts from parents of the divorcing parties. One way Florida divorce statute defines “income” is to include “payments, made by any person.” Florida courts have found that this provision includes “continuing and ongoing” parental gifts of money, but not “sporadic gifts.”
The Fourth District Court of Appeal case of Ordini v. Ordini provides an example in which regular monetary support from the husband’s parents were properly categorized as income for the purpose of determining child support and spousal support obligations. The husband’s parents supported the couple throughout a 12-year marriage at the level of about $6,500 monthly, which included about $400 per week for a “salary” from the father’s business, although the $400 was largely gratuitous since the husband rarely worked.
The parents’ support even continued after the spouses separated in anticipation of divorce. At the trial, the husband’s mother testified that she would continue to provide support after the divorce, even for the ex-wife and children. In this situation, the court found that the parents’ payments were appropriately considered to be income.
This court also noted that because the younger generation has fewer chances for “substantial” wages and savings as it was for their parents, the issue of when to consider parental financial gifts as income will continue to come up.