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What happens when income in imputed during child support calculations?

Child Support

Child support is based on a specific formula. Either your attorney, the Friend of the Court, or a judge will calculate the child support amount.  When a parent has limited or no income,  they are surprised when they still have to pay support. For example, a stay-at-home mom with no income may still be ordered to pay monthly support, or the amount of support that the other parent is ordered to pay is lowered based on income that she is not actually earning. How does that happen?

The child support formula includes a provision that the court may impute income which means that the court assigns an amount of income to a party that they could be earning while they are not actually earning that amount of money.

The amount of Income that is imputed on a party must be based on specific guidelines.  For example, a judge may not impute minimum wage on a parent without first reviewing the specific guidelines outlined in the Michigan Child Support Formula. Parents often learn about income being imputed when they receive a proposed order from the Friend of the Court and they wonder if they have any recourse.

When you receive a proposed court order with imputed income, you should contact a qualified child support attorney to discuss whether the imputation of income was allowed or if the amount that was imputed is a fair amount.

The Child Support Formula provides a specific guideline when income may be imputed, and if income is imputed how much income should be imputed. For example, a judge must look at prior employment experience, prior earnings, education levels, possible disabilities, a parent’s availability to work, availability of work opportunities, the prevailing wage in the local geographical area, a parent’s diligence in seeking employment, whether the parent could actually earn the proposed amount of money, whether the parent has other children in the home, and whether a parent significantly reduced their income prior to filing.

In some instances, a parent may need to provide the court with expert testimony about the parent’s ability to earn the proposed amount of income. A qualified child support attorney can assist with obtaining such an expert’s opinion.

Parents often do not realize the long-term cost of the imputation of income. The ordered amount of child support may create a financial strain on a parent’s monthly budget, which will continue annually, and until the child reaches the age of majority or until the order is amended at which time imputation often continues.

If you are faced with the imputation of income, call the attorneys at Kraayeveld Law at 616-285-0808 to have the proposed child support order reviewed or to formulate responses if a hearing is anticipated or scheduled.