In divorce cases involving child support, the issue can arise of the amount of income that should be attributed to a spouse who is unemployed and cannot otherwise produce reliable evidence of income such as pay stubs or tax returns from previous years. Prior to July 1, 2018, courts were able to impute gross income for such individuals based on a 40-hour work week at minimum wage.

GEORGIA LAW REGARDING IMPUTED INCOME CHANGED SIGNIFICANTLY IN 2018

However, in 2018, Georgia law regarding the imputation of income changed significantly. Now, as opposed to simply using a mandatory minimum wage formula, courts are required to do a more individualized assessment. Under O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15(f)(4)(A), the court must “take into account the specific circumstances of the parent to the extent known, including such factors as the parent’s assets, residence, employment and earnings history, job skills, educational attainment, literacy, age, health, criminal record and other employment barriers, and record of seeking work, as well as the local job market, the availability of employers willing to hire the parent, prevailing earnings level in the local community, and other relevant background factors in the case.”

Further, the recent changes in Georgia law have also impacted the imputation of income for incarcerated parents. The court is no longer permitted to assume “an ability for earning capacity based upon pre-incarceration wages or other employment related income, but income may be imputed based upon the actual income and assets available to such incarcerated parent.”

The new law also provides that when a party believes that the amount of imputed income is lower than the other party’s actual income, he/she may provide within 90 days, upon motion to the court, evidence necessary to determine the appropriate amount of child support based upon reliable evidence. A hearing will be scheduled upon the filing of the motion, at which time the court can either increase, decrease, or maintain the current amount of child support.

Although the recent changes in law regarding the imputation of income provides spouses with the opportunity for a fair assessment of child support, providing reliable and admissible evidence in cases of imputed income is a complex issue that can present several challenges, especially for pro se litigants. If you believe your divorce will involve imputation of income for either spouse, it is important that you seek experienced family law counsel. Contact The Faucette Law Firm LLC at (770) 485-6620.