Myth #1: Courts See Through This When Imputing Income
Imputed income, the method courts use to assign or credit income to a parent for the purpose of child support, often varies substantially from state to state, court to court.
According to Lawyers.com
the most common factors courts look at when calculating imputed income are:
- Earning history
- Employment history
- Employment opportunities in the specific geographic area
Yet, there are some commonly-held assumptions divorcing spouses make about how their income will be imputed that can result in (unpleasant) surprise decisions.
In this series, we will share the top 5 “myths” about imputed income and how courts may determine earning responsibilities.
If I take a part time job it demonstrates my willingness to work, and will reduce imputed income.
According to Shannon Hurley, Esq. and specialist in child custody and divorce law, full-time income may well be imputed when a parent drops from full-time employment to part-time employment to pursue additional education (or some other interest such as a hobby, volunteer work or travel).
- It is not uncommon for a divorcing spouse to assume that taking a part-time job adequately demonstrates to the courts a willingness to find appropriate work, and expect the lower income to determine income potential. It can demonstrate a first step to return to employment, but may not determine actual earning capacity.
- Or, divorcing spouses often assume that the pursuit of additional education in and of itself demonstrates a willingness to seek better paying employment.
These are “myth assumptions” as courts will likely carefully scrutinize the kind of education efforts and the duration/type of part-time employment spouses take on when assessing income responsibility.
A divorcing spouse who becomes, or chooses to become underemployed (via part time or lower level work) can expect scrutiny similar to an unemployed parent or spouse. The court can still decide to impute a higher earning capacity than the part-time earnings suggest.