How Do You Figure Out Child Support When One Parent Doesn’t Work?
In this video Divorce lawyer Patrick Copley answers the question, “How do the courts determine child support if one of the parents isn’t working?” Imputed income is basically when a court, or the parties if they agree to it, use an income figure for a party that is not their actual income. There are claiming the person is making a specific amount of money when he or she is not. What would those circumstances be? It is assumed in the state of Kansas that an individual can always work full-time and can always earn minimum wage. Currently that is just over $15,00 to $15,072 annually. That is about $1,256 a month. If you are going through a divorce or it is a post-divorce motion and you are a party that is not working most likely the Court will impute an income to you at minimum wage, the figures that I just gave. There are some exceptions to this. For example, a party is at home taking care of a parent who is ill and the parties agreed that because of that situation the only person who can take care of this person is the particular party. So, they are not going to impute income to him and plugged the numbers in at zero dollars. That is unusual but I have been a part of a case where the parties did agree to that. But, imputed income, in most cases, is going to be at the minimum wage level at least. If a party does have a college degree and some work experience, it is not unusual to agree or have the Court impose $20,000 or $25,000 as imputed income. If we are going to impute a party’s income at minimum wage or $20-25,000, and there are young children involved and if that person who is having this income imputed to him or her, that party would need to incur work-related child care expenses to earn that income. That amount would also be imputed and plugged into the Child Support Worksheet.
So, if you are a party staying at home to take care of a child, we will impute your income at minimum wage. But, an argument that has been adopted by the Kansas Court of Appeals says if you are going to pretend that a party is working 40 hours a week, that means the party has to pay a certain amount a week in work-related child care also. That is going to put on the worksheet as well. So, many times this is how cases are resolved regarding a party not working outside of the home. Another time a party will have income imputed to him or her is when they get fired from a job for a cause. For example, I was representing a man who worked at a local retail store. I didn’t know this until the hearing, but he lost his job because he had been caught stealing from his employer. He was making $35,000 before he got fired for stealing. He was out of work and wasn’t earning as much money. But we were still going to impute income to him at that $35,000 level. But if an individual is simply just laid off, we are not going to impute income to that person, only if they are fired for a cause. If a person as part of their employment, receives a benefit such as a company car, or their gas is paid for by their employer or if they have housing provided for them by their employer, that is called an in-kind payment. We would put a value on that in-kind payment and include it on their gross domestic income. If there is evidence that an individual is taking extreme measures as a business owner to reduce their income or intentionally underemployed or unemployed, the Court will listen to that evidence. If it is determined that the party is doing that, income will be imputed to that person as to what they had been earning historically or what they could earn.
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