Child support obligations are generally modifiable upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances and if it is in the best interest of the child. When retirement is voluntary, but occurs at “normal retirement age,” courts are generally willing to reduce or terminate the support obligation. However, where retirement before age 65 is not required for health reasons, mandated by the employer or deemed reasonable by the court, modification of support based on retirement will usually be denied and thus, income will be imputed (Ward v. Ward, 502 So.2d 477).
Imputing income basically means that the court treats the parent’s income as if it is more than what the parent is actually earning. If a court determines that a parent is unemployed, underemployed or making less than what he or she was previously making to avoid child support payments, the court can impute a certain amount of additional income to that parent. In ruling on a voluntary retirement is reasonable, Florida courts will consider that payor’s age, health, and motivation for retirement, as well as the type of work performed and the age at which others engaged in that line of work normally retire. (Vriesenga v. Vriesenga, 931 So.2d 213). The court will also consider what harm, if any, would occur to the child from the reduction in child support. If the modification is not in the best interests of the child, the court won’t approve it.