In many New York divorce actions, the courts will find it fitting to order one party to pay the other spousal or child support. Typically, support obligations are based, in part, on the income of both parties. In cases in which the courts believe a party is learning less than they are able to, however, the courts may impute income to them. In a recent New York divorce action, the court discussed when the imputation of income is appropriate. If you are considering ending your marriage, it is recommended that you meet with a New York divorce attorney to discuss how your decision may impact you financially.
The History of the Case
It is reported that the parties were married and subsequently divorced. The final judgment of dissolution addressed spousal maintenance, child support, custody arrangements, and property distribution. The husband appealed on several grounds, and the wife filed a cross appeal.
Imputation of Income in New York Spousal and Child Support Actions
On appeal, the husband argued, among other things, that the trial court erred income imputing to him from April 2021, based on a sum of money he paid pursuant to the terms of a contract. The court agreed and modified the judgment to reduce his income to $76,000 annually.
The court explained that when determining what constitutes an appropriate support obligation, the courts should not rely on a party’s current economic reality; instead, the focus should be on the party’s ability to provide support. The court went on to state that the courts have considerable discretion to impute income when determining child support, and such imputation will not be disturbed as long as there is record support for it.
In the subject case, the court found that the husband’s ability to make a contractual payment was evidence that income should be imputed to him beyond what he reported about his finances. The court noted, however, that the record did not support the trial court’s conclusion that the payment itself constituted income.
Ultimately, the court determined that the evidence of record was sufficient for it to make findings of fact that an annual income of $76,000 should be imputed to the husband from April 2021 onward based on his employment history and earning capacity. As a result, the court modified the judgment accordingly.
The court also held that the trial court deviated from the presumptive child support award based on shared custody, which was improper grounds for downward deviation. The remaining grounds for the deviation were unsupported by the record. As a result, the court vacated the child support award and remitted the matter for recalculation.
Meet with an Experienced New York Attorney
The decision to end a marriage typically impacts people both emotionally and financially, and it is important for anyone contemplating divorce to understand the consequences of their potential decision. If you have questions about your rights with regard to divorce, it is prudent to meet with an attorney. Ksenia Rudyuk is an experienced New York divorce attorney with ample experience helping people protect their interests in dissolution proceedings. You can reach Ms. Rudyuk via the form online or at 212-706-2001 to set up a conference.