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Imputing Income: When a Parent Tries to Get out of Child Support

Under New York law, both parents have the duty to financially provide for their child until they are reach 21 years of age, or they are emancipated. How much a parent has to pay in support would be decided according to the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA), the guidelines for this support in New York. While that may seem straightforward, it only is when both parents cooperate.

The sad reality is that many parents try to get out of their responsibility to their children, and one way they may try to get out of these payments is by purposefully making themselves unemployed or underemployed. With lesser income, they think they can get away with lesser payments or no court-ordered payments at all. But if a judge finds that a parent has done this, they can "impute income" to them, meaning that they will order them to make payments based off of the real income they should have been making. This often is the income that they had in their previous position.

If, for instance, a medical professional who is making $60,000 a year quits their job and gets a minimum wage position at a fast food chain before the child support hearing, a judge might have the option to impute income to that parent, deciding that they willfully chose to leave their job for a position for which they were overqualified. The judge could then assign an income of $60,000 to that parent and determine child support based off of that amount.

So how does a judge decide whether or not to impute income to a parent? A court will have to examine how much the parent has made before, what the parent's real earning capacity is, and how much education the parent has. Then a court will want to determine whether or not the reduced income was involuntary or not. A judge will also want to see whether or not a parent has done their absolute best to find the right place to work; the economy is tough, after all. A judge could not impute income just because of a tough job market, a medical emergency, or a layoff, etc. But a parent who is simply in a difficult spot will may have to prove that it is not on purpose.

If you think the other parent is trying to evade child support, or you are being faced with a child support hearing and your income has been reduced through no fault of your own, learn how you can protect you and your child's rights when you contact the Meyers Law Group, P.C. An experienced and dedicated lawyer from our firm may be able to help you get a court order that is fair to both you and your child.