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What Is Imputed Income?

When Georgia courts are determining issues related to child custody or child support the best interest of the child is typically the guiding factor. It is generally expected that the non-custodial parent will have to make child support payments to the custodial parent. There are guidelines and worksheets in the State of Georgia that the court will use in order to make this determination. However, there are times when a parent’s income is difficult to determine.

O.C.G.A. §19-6-15 states that the court may impute to a parent an income equal to the minimum wage times a forty (40) hour work week if that parent’s income cannot be determined based upon reliable evidence such as tax returns, pay stubs, etc. The court can also make a finding that a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed and impute a higher income on that parent based on their earning ability. Factors used to make this finding are as follows:

  • the parent’s past and present unemployment
  • education and previous job training
  • assets
  • health

The situation in which this could arise is a scenario where one parent believes that the imputed income is too low and desires to challenge the amount. The court would then have a hearing and allow both sides to present evidence to support their position. Based on what is presented the court would then have the authority to make changes to the non-custodian parent’s child support payments as it deemed necessary. It is best to have the advice of an experienced family law and divorce attorney to investigate the non-custodial parent’s sources of income. The rationale behind the imputed income rule on the non-custodial parent is to make sure that the payments are calculated fairly. It is not unheard of for the non-custodial parent to intentionally make efforts to pay the least amount possible to the custodial parent out of spite.

If you are interested in filing a modification on an existing child support order or are in the process of seeking child support from the non-custodial parent it is important to obtain the advice of an experienced divorce and family law attorney. The Faucette Law Firm represents clients in all areas of family law including, child support, child custody, divorce and modifications. Contact us today for a consultation.