Divorces with minor children can be messy. Parents seem to fight over everything, especially child visitation rights and child support. Unfortunately, they usually lose sight of the bigger picture– the well-being of their children. Parents need to realize child support is for support of their children, not to bump up their disposable income. In dissolutions of marriage involving children, spouses have a tendency to get creative in trying to avoid or reduce their child support payments by lowering their own incomes. However, a court has a mechanism to rebuff any attempts of the parent’s trying to reduce their child support payments by artificially lowering their income. A court can and will impute income when they feel a party’s unemployment or underemployment is voluntary and used to shirk their child support responsibilities.
When a person is unemployed or underemployed, the calculation of child support will be based upon potential income rather than actual income if the party’s unemployment or underemployment is deemed voluntary by the court. If their unemployment or underemployment is due to the special needs of the child or their own disability, it won’t be considered voluntary.
An opposing party can try to impute income by providing evidence the other party is capable of and has the potential to find higher paying work. The court takes into consideration all the relevant factors with regards to the parties employment potential-their education, past employment, termination of their most current job, their skills and training and their efforts to find new work. If the court determines that the parent is shirking child support obligation by foregoing higher paying employment, then the court can impute income. Also, the fact that a person has income does not necessarily avoid the attribution of potential income if that person is not working and has the ability to work. This is true even if the income actually received by the person exceeds any income previously received from employment. The Court wants to make sure the children are supported and they maintain the lifestyle they are accustomed to. The imputation of income is a great tool to ensure that the children’s needs are taking care of and supported.