Court Discusses Imputed Income in Child Support Cases in New York

It is not uncommon for parents who share custody of a child to have disparate incomes. Thus, in many instances, one parent will be required to pay child support to his or her co-parent. In general terms, New York courts calculate child support obligations based on the income of both parents. As discussed in a recent New York family law case, however, income is not solely defined as income earned through employment but can include income from other sources as well, such as money from a significant other. If you or your child’s co-parent wish to seek child support, it is advisable to speak to an experienced New York child support attorney to discuss what you can do to protect your rights.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the mother and father were married in 2003 and had two children during their marriage. In 2013, the father filed for divorce. The parties came to an agreement with regards to custody but agreed to allow the court to determine property division and financial matters. The court subsequently awarded the mother $1,770 in monthly child support, based on the mother’s imputed annual income of $25,000 and the father’s imputed annual income of $75,000, after which both parents appealed.

Imputed Income in Child Support Cases

Under New York law, a court has broad discretion with regards to imputing income when calculating an appropriate amount of child support and is not limited to what the parties represent with regards to their finances. Specifically, a court may impute income based on a parent’s future earning capacity, employment history, educational background, and money received from friends and family. In imputing income to a parent, however, a court must provide a record that clearly indicates the source of the imputed income, the reasons for imputing income to the parent, and the calculations that resulted from the imputed income.

In the subject case, the appellate court found that it was proper for the trial court to impute income to the father based on the money he received from his fiancée. The appellate court explained, though, that the trial court failed to demonstrate that the amount of income imputed to the father was supported by the record. Further, the appellate court found that the trial court accurately imputed income to the father based on the money he earned performing side jobs.

The appellate court found, however, that the trial court abused its discretion in only imputing $25,000 in annual income to the mother based on the contributions from her family and her employment history. Since there was insufficient evidence to accurately assess the imputed income of either party, the appellate court remanded the issue to the trial court to hold a hearing, after which a new child support obligation would be calculated.

Confer with an Experienced New York Attorney

While all parents have a duty to provide financial support for their children, it is not always clear what means a parent has to provide support. If you are involved in a child support dispute, attorney Ksenia Rudyuk can gather the facts and evidence needed to assist you in striving to safeguard your interests. You can reach Ms. Rudyuk at 212-706-2001 or via the online form to set up a conference.

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