How Can the Court Find That My Income for Child Support Is More than I Actually Earn? -Attorney Elizabeth Sopinski
How Can the Court Find That My Income for Child Support Is More than I Actually Earn?
Thinking of taking a lower paying job or leaving your job to attempt to avoid child support? Think again. The Court does not just look at your current income on your pay stub or recent W-2 statement. The Court digs deeper than that. How much child support you owe depends on a parent’s ability to provide support, rather than looking at strict income numbers. A Judge or Support Magistrate has the power to find a parent’s income is higher than it actually is, a concept known as “income imputation.”
Under the Child Support Standards Act, a Judge or Support Magistrate has the authority to impute income to a parent when he or she reduces resources or income to avoid paying child support. This law aligns with the public policy in New York State that children need adequate financial support to survive. It is often stated that raising children living in two households is more costly than raising children living in one.
A Judge or Support Magistrate can also impute income based on a parent’s prior employment experience, earning capacity, and/or other accessible financial resources. Take, for example, a 35-year-old physician earning $100,000 who decides that his real passion is becoming a freelance writer after he divorces his wife, with whom he has 3 small children. At the time the child support action is commenced, the physician is earning only $20,000 per year as a freelance writer. In such a circumstance, the Court has the ability to impute income based on the physician’s educational background, work experience, and capacity to earn more as a medical doctor. It must be emphasized that whether the Court imputes income depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. Consult with an attorney at Levene Gouldin & Thompson for sound advice regarding how the financial circumstances of your case will affect an obligation to pay child support.