Any income you have can be used for child support. Child support is a state matter, and each state does it a bit differently. Check with a Florida attorney who practices military law, for an understanding of Floriida's statute.
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There is no bar to a state considering any stipend you receive for education. That's up to the state on how it calculates the persons income.
As Mr. Rafter suggests contact a Florida attorney who is familiar with military divorce and custody cases.
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First, thank you for your service.
Second, Fla. Stat. 61.30(2) provides that gross income includes, and is not limited to:
1. Salary or wages.
2. Bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime, tips, and other similar payments.
3. Business income from sources such as self-employment, partnership, close corporations, and independent contracts. “Business income” means gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce income.
4. Disability benefits.
5. All workers’ compensation benefits and settlements.
6. Reemployment assistance or unemployment compensation.
7. Pension, retirement, or annuity payments.
8. Social security benefits.
9. Spousal support received from a previous marriage or court ordered in the marriage before the court.
10. Interest and dividends.
11. Rental income, which is gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce the income.
12. Income from royalties, trusts, or estates.
13. Reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses.
14. Gains derived from dealings in property, unless the gain is nonrecurring.
I believe that it is most likely a Florida court would consider GI Bill income, at least the monthly stipend portion of the GI Bill benefit, as either “salary or wages” (sub. para 1) or “reimbursed expenses or in kind payments to the extent that they reduce living expenses (sub. para 13).
Third, even if the court does not consider the GI Bill as income, the court may decide you are voluntarily underemployed and may ‘impute’ income to you. The statutes provide that "Monthly income shall be imputed to an unemployed or underemployed parent if such employment or underemployment is found by the court to be voluntary on that parent's part, absent a finding of fact by the court of physical or mental incapacity or other circumstances over which the parent has no control." Fla. Stat. 61.30(2)(b).
In cases involving a parent being unemployed while seeking to increase their education, courts in Florida have used the best interests of the child standard to determine if imputation of income to the student parent is appropriate. See Overbey v. Overbey, 698 So.2d 811 (Fla. 1997). If the parent going to school, or going back to school, is not in the child’s best interests, the court may elect to impute income to the student parent at the level the student parent had before they quit working to go to school.
Again, thank you for your service and best wishes in your academic pursuits.
David A. Veenstra, Esq. (SMSgt, USAF-Retired)
This is only general advice and should not be considered a specific legal assessment of your case or advice that would create an attorney-client relationship. For a consultation contact our office at (813) 287-2227.
The Post 9/11 GI Bill provides BAH in the location the school is located while you are enrolled. Most courts consider BAH when calculating monthly income for purposes of child support.
States almost uniformly view the support of minor children as an important parental responsibility. As a former Marine, you may understand the concept of placing another's welfare before your own. Sometimes we have to make hard choices in life, including whether to have children, when to have children, and how we are going to support them if we do.
Your children cannot support themselves, so they have to rely upon you. Be that Dad who does the right thing; don't be that Dad who puts his kids on Welfare because he would rather do something else with his money.
We give free general concepts to be helpful, but you should give ALL your facts to a licensed Attorney in your state before you RELY upon any legal advice.