What Is Imputation of Income in Child Support Calculations?

What Is Imputation of Income in Child Support Calculations?

What Is Imputation of Income in Child Support Calculations?

Understanding child support calculations can be a challenging feat. Child support is determined based (mainly) on the income of each party, along with a few other factors. It can often be confusing in situations where a parent is laid off, not working, or is underemployed because their current employment does not reflect their usual income. To ensure that child support is calculated appropriately, the law identifies guidelines for imputing income in these situations.

What is Imputation of Income?

Imputing is the technical term for replacing missing data with other determined values. In the case of child support, if a parent is unemployed, are they are believed to be underemployed, the court will use other information upon which to base their child support calculation.  The process of replacing the missing information (the actual income) with alternative information (the expected income) is imputation.

When is Income Imputed?

The monthly income is imputed only in cases where it has been determined by the court that the unemployment or underemployment is voluntary by the parent. If a parent is incapacitated either physically or mentally, or the employment situation is not determined to be his/her fault, imputation may not be implemented. Imputation of income also occurs if the details of a parent’s income are not available, if the parent does not participate in the child support proceedings or if he/she does not willingly provide the appropriate information in the proceeding.

How is Data Imputed?

In the case of voluntary unemployment or underemployment, the child support calculations may be based on the potential and probable earnings of the parent. These figures are determined by evaluating the parent’s recent work history (within five years) and job qualifications. If the parent is not providing their income information or fails to participate in the support proceeding the income data imputed is that of the median income of a year-round full-time employee which is taken from population reports published by the US Census Bureau.

When Seeking Imputation of Income

The party looking to impute income will need to provide proof to the court that the other parent’s unemployment or underemployment is voluntary.  They will also need to provide the court with evidence supporting the imputed data. This means evidence will need to be produced from the parent’s recent employment, or income comparisons should be completed of individuals with the same licensure, education, experience, and in the same geographic location.

Income imputation may not be based on income records greater than 5-year-olds or an income that the parent has never before earned. Public assistance, tax deductions, insurance contributions, and court-ordered child support are also excluded.