Parents have a fundamental responsibility to support their minor or legally dependent children even if they are divorced. Sometimes a parent will fail to pay their fair share of child support, perhaps because they are out of work or underemployed. Everyone can fall on hard times, but if a parent does not make an effort to secure adequate employment or intentionally is working at a low paying job or has quit a job voluntarily, the court may impute their income to reflect their job history, occupational qualifications, and prevailing earnings level in the community.
Absent a finding of fact that a physical or mental incapacity or other circumstance that the parent has no control over is to blame, there are not many ways to fight an order for imputed income because the best interests of the child are served when both parents are working at maximum capacity. However, it is certainly in the parent’s interest to attend all child support proceedings where he or she can present information regarding their income, the efforts they have made to secure more gainful employment, and any other relevant information that the court can consider when making a determination.
Generally speaking, in order for the court to impute income at an amount other than the median income of year-round full-time workers as derived from current population reports published by the United States Bureau of the Census, the party who is seeking imputed income (an ex-spouse) will have to provide the court competent, substantial evidence that the unemployment or underemployment is voluntary, and provide the amount and source of imputed income from available employment for which the party is suitably qualified. If the other party can provide information countering this evidence – that the under or unemployment is not voluntary, that the jobs in the area are not within their ability, education level or experience, and that they have made a genuine effort to secure gainful employment – they may be able to reduce the amount of imputed income to reflect what is fair given their actual circumstances.
The best advice is to work with an experienced family law attorney whether you are parent who wishes to impute income so that your kids enjoy maximum financial support or in cases where a parent wants to ensure that their child support judgement is based on the facts of their financial situation now. When you have questions regarding Illinois child support, contact the Libertyville family law offices Schlesinger & Strauss LLC for immediate assistance at 847-680-4970.