In New York, both parents are expected to provide for the child. This means some combination of financial support and emotional support in order to ensure that the child is properly cared for. In some instances, however, one party might seek to reduce their financial obligation by artificially reducing their earnings. When this occurs, a judge can impute income. Imputing income means that the judge assigns a different income amount than what they report they are currently earning based on their earning capacity.
For instance, if the father was consistently working 40 hours per week at their job but suddenly began working 15 hours per week, the judge may assign the value of their child support based on their original 40 hour work week. Similarly, if a parent was working one job making $80,000 per year and they are suddenly making minimum wage, the judge may determine that their earning capacity is actually $80,000 and set their child support amount based on that.
A family law judge will look at several factors when determining if they should impute income. Amongst the factors they will examine include:
- Previous earnings
- Educational background
- Earnings of others with similar educational backgrounds
- Whether this parent is using their best effort to find appropriate employment
- The reason for the reduced income
The court will also listen to the parent to determine why they have a reduced income. For instance, if the parent is suffering from health problems or if they faced downsizing, the court may use its discretion in whether or not to impute income. If the parent does not have a valid excuse for why they have depressed earnings, the court may ultimately decide to set the amount of child support based on their earning capacity.
At The Law Offices of Seidner & Associates, we understand how contentious it can be for some parents to determine child support. If you feel that your partner is intentionally earning less to avoid paying child support, we will fight to ensure that your child gets a fair amount. To speak to a family law attorney about your situation, contact The Law Offices of Seidner & Associates today for a free consultation.