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What is imputed income?

When couples in Charlotte choose to divorce, it’s not uncommon to see the negative feelings that they feel for each other spill over into their subsequent divorce proceedings and beyond. Child support can be a particularly sensitive issue among divorced couples. Obligated parents may often allow the poor relationships that they have with their ex-spouses to influence them to shirk their responsibilities. While this may not mean flatly refusing to pay, some may try to cleverly find ways out of their obligations.

Some of those obligated to pay child support may think that if they’re not working or not making enough to meet their current payments, there’s nothing their exes or the courts can do to make them pay. Thus, they may try to intentionally lose their jobs, or at least leave for other jobs that pay them less money. Yet those who think that such a plan will work in getting them out of paying their child support are often unpleasantly surprised to learn that family courts aren’t often persuaded by such tactics.

When one’s income status changes, the court may still decide to determine his or her child support payments based off of imputed income. Imputed income refers to one’s potential income rather than his or her actual income. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, imputed income may be considered in setting up a child support obligation amount if the court believes one become intentionally unemployed or underemployed:

  •          To intentionally suppress his or her income
  •          Specifically to minimize his or her child support payments
  •          In general bad faith

In determining imputed income, the court may take into account factors such as a person’s employment history, his or her level of education, or the current climate of the local job market. 

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