Following a divorce or custody action, it is likely that one or both of the parties will need to rearrange their finances. When the parties share children, they are both required to provide financial support for their children. In cases where a parent has lost a job, changed a job, or never had a job, income can be imputed to them for the purpose of establishing child support.
Imputing an income means that a court can set a custodial parent’s income at a certain level despite the fact the parent’s income is not actually at the level. In Minnesota, a court must look at a parent’s “potential income” under Minnesota Statute §518A.32 to determine if a parent’s support should be based on what he or she could be making instead of what he or she actually makes. A court will determine if a parent is voluntarily underemployed, unemployed, or employed part-time. If so, or if the court has no direct evidence of income, the court can set the parent’s income at their potential income instead of their actual income. When deciding the amount of potential income, Minnesota courts will look at a variety of factors, such as recent work history or occupational qualifications. The court may also use the amount of income a parent would earn if he or she was working at least 30 hours per week at minimum wage.
It is important to note that using potential income instead of actual income will not be appropriate in every case just because a parent experiences a decrease in income and can no longer pay support at the previous level. A parent will not be considered voluntarily underemployed where, for example, he or she has experienced a physical or mental incapacity that makes it impossible to work full time. If a parent has made a bona fide career change, the court will weigh whether the adverse effect from the drop in income and financial support to the child is outweighed by the benefits of that employment change.
Call us today at (651) 371-9117 and talk with us about your child support questions. We look forward to speaking with you about your child and your support order.