You might be concerned that your spouse or the other parent may be avoiding their support obligations by avoiding employment, being under-employed, or voluntarily declining higher paying employment. Or, you might be wondering whether you will face legal consequences for choosing a lower paying job, voluntarily resigning, or accepting retirement. Courts hearing family law disputes in Northern Virginia have authority to impute income to both spouses and/or parents. These are valid concerns that you should address by seeking the advice of an experienced Northern Virginia family law attorney.
Child Support Obligations in Northern Virginia
When child support obligations in Northern Virginia of a parent are calculated, they are usually done with both parents’ gross monthly income, which includes all income from all sources. A court is allowed to not only look at the parent’s income but also the parent’s ability to earn income. When the court uses the earning capacity of the parent, rather than their current, actual income, it is imputing income. Such imputation usually occurs when a parent is voluntarily unemployed or under-employed. The rule of thumb is that a parent is obligated to earn as much income as he or she reasonably can.
The court’s review of whether a parent is voluntarily unemployed or under-employed can be complex and highly circumstantial. You should seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney in Northern Virginia to review whether a court could impute income to you and potentially increase your support obligations or if the other parent should have income imputed to them.
Spousal Support Obligations in Northern Virginia
Likewise, a court also has the authority to impute income to either spouse to determine spousal support obligations to parties in Northern Virginia. When determining spousal support obligations, a court not only looks at a spouse’s current earnings but also their earning capacity. Again, a court looks to see whether a spouse is earning as much as he or she reasonably can as to mitigate the amount of support a spouse needs or whether a spouse is paying the necessary amount of support. Where a court finds that a spouse is voluntarily unemployed or under employed, a court may impute income to the extent of the difference in earnings and earning capability.
A court reviews imputation of income for spousal support based on a variety of circumstances, such as whether employment opportunities were declined, whether the spouse left employment voluntarily, or whether a spouse retires, among others. Because a court’s review of the many factors that affect imputation of income in Northern Virginia spousal support proceedings is dependent on individual circumstances, you should seek the advice of a Northern Virginia family law or divorce attorney experienced in support matters to advise you regarding your right to receive additional spousal support based on imputation or whether you are at risk of having income imputed to you as to raise your spousal support obligations.