With the shaky economy of today, divorcing parties are more often finding themselves with less than stable income levels. Many people have experienced a decline in income, or loss of job all together. Additionally, many parties have experienced a decrease in income that is directly related to the stress of divorce. These facts beg the question of how the Courts will handle a decrease in income relative to Orders of alimony and child support.
Many people are surprised to learn that the Court will not automatically accept your “new” income for the purpose of calculating support orders. The Court may, in its discretion, impute income to a party when the Court believes that the party has the capability of earning more than his or her present income. This also serves as a deterrent for the less than honest spouse who attempts to manipulate his or her income in the wake of a divorce in order to decrease a support obligation.
By way of example, if you were earning an income of $100,000 in 2012, prior to the filing of divorce, but this year (for whatever reason), you are now earning an income of $50,000, the Court will not automatically use your $50,000 income for the purpose of calculating support. The Court may utilize the $100,000 income for the purpose of support if this is the level of income that you have always had. In the alternative, the Court could average your income over a number of years, if your income has always fluctuated. The Court’s ultimate goal will be to arrive at an income amount that most accurately reflects what you have earned historically and your earning potential. Sometimes, this is not the number reflected on your paystub. Posted by Robyn E. Ross, Esq.