Imputing Income – What Does It Mean?

Because of the financial situation in the job market, many individuals have changed jobs and even careers in the past few years.  The employment change almost always impacts child support calculation.

What options are available to the Court?  The court has the option to impute income – this simply means that a court can treat a person as having more income than he or she actually earns at that moment.  It is often used to make sure that a party does not stay unemployed to avoid paying child support . However, the Court can also impute additional income to a party that is employed.

Before the Court can impute income, it looks to see whether the party is attempting to evade paying child support, or has not taken advantage of an employment opportunity.  For example, if you turn down a job offer that is in your field, the court may determined that you have unreasonably failed to take advantage of an opportunity.  Another example is if you switch careers, and take a significant pay cut.

If the Court determines that income should be imputed, the next question is how much? In many circumstances, the court will impute income equal to the amount the person would be capable of earning given his or her set of skills, education, and experience.  One indicator the courts look to is the past history of earnings.  So if an employed party changes careers in bad faith, the court may impute income, and order that the party pay support at a higher level than he or she expected.

So when considering a career change, or if you have lost your job, you should be aware of all the variables, and how it affects your child support calculation.   After all, your employment affects not only you, but your children as well.

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