Child support issues are some of the most contentious when it comes to
divorce. While there are some who may see this as a punishment, both parents
should provide financial support for the children whether they are together
or not. This is why child support is determined in divorce cases, to make
sure that children are well cared for and they have the financial support
they need. There are several people who are unsure how it works and what
is necessary during the process. Even then, some people may try to avoid
making these payments.
Determining Child Custody
When going through a divorce trial, the judge will make the decisions regarding
how much the non-custodial spouse will pay and for how long. In order
to make that decision, the judge will consider a number of factors. One
of the factors that they will look at is the income of both parties. Unfortunately,
some parents who want to avoid paying will take steps and search for methods
to lower the amount of income they are to report. In some cases, this
can mean them taking less hours at work. In other situations, this may
mean the parent expecting to pay refusing to work completely. This is
a shame as it means the child doesn’t get the support it needs.
Fortunately, some judges in California will impute income.
What Does it Mean to Impute Income?
When the non-custodial parent attempts to reduce their income for the purpose
of paying less child support or not paying at all, the judge may impute
income. This means that they are attributing income to a parent despite
them not earning that amount. This is often based on how much the judge
believes the parent should be or could be making, based on their qualifications.
This method is used to ensure that the non-custodial parent is not trying
to just get out of paying support.
The California family courts will often look into a number of factors when
determining if they will impute income in child support cases. These include
- The paying parent’s ability to work
- The paying parent’s opportunity to earn income
- The paying parent’s willingness to work
For example, if a parent was making a set amount prior to the ruling and
the income suddenly decreased during the divorce, there may be a chance
that this parent is either incorrectly reporting their income or they
took action to earn less than they previously were. In this situation,
the judge would most often determine why the decrease in income occurred
and if income should be imputed as a result.
This is a similar case in voluntary unemployment or underemployment. A
parent is involuntary unemployed when they lost their job for a reason
out of their control. They can show this to the court, and the judge would
most likely consider it a valid reason to not impute income. However,
if the parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed — quits
his or her job, gets terminated due to misconduct, or changes careers
to a lower paying job — the court will consider if the best interests
of the child would require them to impute income. At the end of the day,
family courts in California are focused on making sure children are taken
care of by both parents.
If you are going through divorce and need help with child support matters,
James D. Madden & Aruna P. Rodrigo, Family Law Attorneys is here to help you.
Contact our team and learn more about your rights if your soon-to-be ex-spouse is trying
to report a lower income or is taking action to voluntarily make less. Our
San Bernardino child support attorneys are ready to help you.