One of the things about which the law is abundantly clear is that a parent has a legal obligation to support their minor children. What is not always so clear, however, is exactly how that support should be calculated. Sometimes, parents may try to dodge paying child support (or enhance the amount of child support they receive) by purposefully reducing their workload… or by not working at all. When they do, the law has a solution for that — something called “imputed income.” If your child support case involves an issue of imputed income – whether that income is to be imputed to you or to your child’s other parent – you need an experienced Hoboken family law attorney on your side to handle all of the legal and factual intricacies involved with winning an argument about imputed income.
Generally speaking, child support is calculated using the parents’ actual incomes and the child support “guidelines,” which are set by court rule. Sometimes, though, actual incomes won’t yield a fair outcome. If, for example, a father who is a litigation attorney freely leaves his Bergen County law practice to take a job teaching surfing lessons on Long Beach Island, then the law may look at that parent and say he is “voluntarily underemployed.” When that happens, the court can impute income to that parent at the level he was earning before the job change.
In a scenario like that, the court may calculate the father’s support using, instead of the sum the father actually earned from his teaching job, a figure equal to what father earned his last year as an attorney. The same thing may happen when a parent decides to stop working completely, which is called “voluntary unemployment.”