What is Imputed Income?
Imputing Income on a Spouse Who Receives Child Support & Spousal Support and Refuses to Work.
Calculation of Child Support:
The Court shall adhere to the statewide uniform guideline and may depart from the guideline only in the special circumstances.
Please see California Family Code Section 4052.
One of the criteria the Court looks at in calculating child support is both parents’ income.
Please see California Family Code Section 4055.
Good news is that the Court may, in its discretion, consider the earning capacity of a parent in lieu of the parent’s income, consistent with the best interests of the children, taking into consideration the overall welfare and developmental needs of the children, and the time that parent spends with the children
Please see California Family Code Section 4058(b).
Calculation of Spousal Support:
One of the criteria the Court looks at in calculating spousal support is earning capacity of each party.
Please see California Family Code Section 4320.
What Is Imputed Income?
When spouses decide to go through a divorce process they will most likely face two potential financial issues such as spousal support and child support, if they have a child (children).
The fact that a spouse receiving child support and/or spousal support refuses to work despite being able to do so might be very disturbing to a spouse who is ordered to pay child support and/or spousal support.
Is it even fair to a spouse who is ordered to pay child support and/or spousal support? The majority would say no, it is not fair.
Both parents of a minor child have an equal responsibility to support their child in the manner suitable to the child’s circumstances.
Please see California Family Code Section 3990.
If this is your case and your Wife/Husband (Ex-spouse) is capable of earning money but refuses to do so then you might have to file a motion and ask the Court to impute income to your Wife/Husband (Ex-spouse).
When a spouse moves to impute income on a spouse receiving child support and/or spousal support, the Court will analyze ability, opportunity and willingness to work of the spouse receiving that support. The Court will look at if any good faith attempts have been made by a spouse receiving support to earn any income.
A spouse who is paying child support and/or spousal support will have to show to the Court that the other spouse refuses to work on purpose. The Court may consider a spouse’s earning capacity verses what this spouse really earns taking into consideration the child’s best interest, overall welfare and needs as well as the time a spouse spends with the child.
Ability, Opportunity and Willingness to Work.
The Court in imputing income from work to an unemployed or under-employed spouse considers that spouse’s:
- Ability to work (taking into consideration such factors as: age, skills, knowledge, education, experience, health, etc.);
- Opportunity to work; and
- Lack of willingness to work consistent with ability and opportunity. [Marriage of Regnery(1989) 214 CA3d 1367.; Marriage of Barth (2012) 210 CA4th 363 (where the Court properly imputed income to a licensed CPA at $10,000 per month where evidence showed he either substantially understated his income or was purposefully underemployed)].
If the Court determines that the spouse receiving child support and/or spousal support has the ability and opportunity to work but refuses to do so, income can be imputed. The Court order will assign a certain amount of income to Wife/Husband (Ex-spouse) even though she/he does not work or a higher income if she/he works part-time.
If income is imputed then child support and/or spousal support can be adjusted accordingly.
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