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What is Imputing Income and When Does It Happen for Child Support?

If a judge has reason to believe a parent can and should be earning more income than they are, they might “impute” (assign) additional income to that parent.

To do so, they will calculate child support based on a higher income than the parent’s actual earned amount, which increases the child support obligation for that underreporting or underemployed parent.

An uncommon circumstance

This is not a strategy judges will jump to right away, or solely because they believe a parent could be earning more. Income imputation typically only happens when the parent is clearly choosing to earn less than reasonable based on their skills. Perhaps they had been a high-level executive but now are working a minimum wage job. Maybe they lost a job at some point, but now refuse to seek new employment.

Before a judge will impute income, they must be provided with evidence that the other parent could or should be earning more, or is hiding funds they have. Common evidence for consideration in these cases includes tax returns, educational record, employment history or evidence of large purchases despite apparently small income.  They will also look at the expenses that you pay. If your income is less than what your stated expenses, there likely will be in imputation of your income.

A judge will have to weigh a variety of factors in consideration of income imputation. Just because one parent is unemployed, for example, does not mean they are willfully unemployed or could be earning significantly more.

Ultimately it is up to the judge’s discretion to determine when imputation is appropriate.

The Courts not only impute income for the party who pays support. If the party who receives support I s not working, the Court will likely impute income to that party which is full time hours (40) based upon the current minimum wage rate.

For more information about income imputation and child support, contact an experienced divorce lawyer at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia LLP.