Can Courts Impute Income When Enforcing Maintenance and Child Support?

Yes.

In fact, an Illinois court recently decided that imputing $70,000 for a husband’s farming income in settling a divorce was appropriate for both child support and maintenance. Consideration by the court was given to both the level at which he was willing to work and the level of his ability to make contributions or earning potential.

Husband claimed that the maintenance award ordered by the trial court of $2,000 per month was improper and excessive.

Husband argued that his farming income was different from year to year and he had not currently planted any crops that could produce income. Husband’s gross income as a farmhand and income from independently farming crops prior to the divorce totaled $110,000. Wife was responsible for the domestic duties and child care while husband worked, delaying wife’s career in becoming a nurse. Wife earned $22,048 a year working in a nursing home. According to evidence, Brad voluntarily discontinued farming and continued working as a farmhand in an attempt to evade his child support obligation. For more information contact my firm.

Most utilities, the car, and the marital residence was paid by the husband’s employer.

In re Marriage of Blume

In Illinois, both parents are deemed to have a legal obligation to provide financial support for their children.

  • A parent cannot reduce his/her child support obligations by voluntarily quitting work or working below his or her earning capacity.
  • A parent cannot reduce his/her child support obligations if they have failed to take advantage of available employment opportunities.

The court can assign a salary to a party based upon the following:

  1. Parent’s Previous Work and Earning History
  2. Parent’s Educational Background
  3. Parent’s occupational qualifications
  4. Prevailing Job Opportunities in the Surrounding Geographic Area of the Parent
  • The court may also rely on the testimony of experts
    • for amount of income a parent could reasonably be expected to earn based upon their education and experience.
  • Evidence that a parent once earned a certain salary and presumably could earn the same salary again is an insufficient basis to impute income.
  • The court cannot
    • assign income representing the amount of a parent’s prior income
      • if said parent was terminated from employment
      • there is no evidence that a new job is available to him/her with the same amount of salary.

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