Imputed income is a more formal term for earning potential. In child custody proceedings, courts would try to determine the earning potential of each parent when determining support amounts, according to various factors. If the court feels that one parent is not earning his or her true potential, it will impute income on that parent with the intention of manipulating the calculation of support amounts.
Parents Must Be Maximally Employed
Majority of states consider first and foremost the child’s bets interest to determine child support decisions. They want the parents to be maximally employed or ensure that their earnings are maximized even as custodial parents.
However, courts are typically aware of what parents should be earning because it’s common for some parents to reduce their income intentionally, hoping that they could increase the support amount they stand to receive or reduce the amount they need to pay, explains a renowned child support lawyer in Lynnwood.
In cases like these, the court imputes income to these parents. This means that the court would claim that these parents must make more money to be the best parent possible to their child, and assign a higher income than they stated or receive when calculating child support payments.
The Parents’ Willingness to Work
The key issue here whether or not a parent’s underemployment or unemployment is involuntary or voluntary. If it’s the latter, the court will impute income up to an amount that the court considers the parent’s real earning potential. To figure out if the parent’s unemployment is involuntary or voluntary, the court would consider the parent’s willingness to work, potential opportunities, and ability.
To determine willingness, the court would examine the parent’s history of looking and applying for jobs, to determine potential opportunities, the court would look at available jobs in the area, and to determine ability, the court would assess the parent’s employment history, job skills, and educational attainment.
When Income Isn’t Imputed
In some instances, the courts won’t impute income on an unemployed parent, for example, if the parent is attending continuing education classes or is making an effort to be employed. Likewise, most courts won’t impute income on a stay-at-home parent.
Child support orders are immensely vital for your child’s upbringing and overall well-being. If you need help with your child custody case, seek help from a family lawyer to help you obtain the best possible results.