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When is reported income disregarded for child support or alimony (maintenance) in New York?

May 14, 2018

Situations Where Reported Income is Disregarded for Child Support or Alimony in New York

Divorces are not always easy. This is especially compounded when there are children involved, or when one spouse has significantly less earning capacity than the other. In either case, there will almost always be issues of child or spousal support to contend with. Such judgements are not entered into lightly by the court. They will take into account the income of the individual in question before issuing a determination as to support. The question is what type of income is to be reported for the purposes of child support or alimony payments in the state of New York. Continue reading to learn more.

A New York court may use various methods to determine income when it comes to child support or temporary alimony payments. The court can, for example, add a certain amount of ‘imputed’ income if it deems it appropriate. Current state statutes actually spell out which items can be calculated for imputing income. It is also mentioned that some other resources that the individual in question has might be considered when determining income. An asset that is not currently producing income is an example of such an enumerated resource. Certain fringe benefits received by one spouse is another example of income that can be imputed by the court in the determination of overall income. This might include housing, food, and other expenses that one spouse receives as a part of his or her job that the other spouse also ended up benefitting from during the marriage.

If the court were to determine that one spouse has lowered their income or available assets in an effort to avoid paying child or spousal law, the court may opt to impute income based on the previous income and resources reported by the spouse. The court might determine, for example, that the individual in question left his or her job, was fired for cause, or is simply choosing not to work at this time in order to avoid support payments. In such cases, the court can take the person’s education into consideration, along with their ability to earn a certain salary. That income can then be used as a determining factor in awarding child support or alimony. It is an obligation of the spouse to use his or her experience and skills to earn a suitable income to support his or her ex-spouse and any children involved. To make this determination, the court might look at the average income of other individuals in the area who have a similar educational and experience background as the person in question.

As with almost any legal proceeding, there is usually two sides to any case. If another person or lawyer aims to argue against certain income being inputed, they can work to illustrate that the loss of a job or income was not their fault. Alternatively, it could have been for medical reasons, a collapse in the economy, or corporate downsizing. If the individual is able to show that they were not responsible for the situation revolving around their loss of income, and that they have been making every possible effort to replace that income, then the court might side with them and opt not to impute that income. Before this happens, the court might have quite a few questions that need to be answered. They may want to know which job and where the individual applied for, the people who were talked to in search of employment, a detailed list of the interviews that were attended, and more. The court will take these under advisement, and compare them with the information received from the other side before ultimately determining how much income is to be used in the awarding of child support or alimony.

There are other forms of income that the court may consider aside from money received from employment. This includes investment, disability, social security, pensions, government payouts, benefits received from retirement, and any other sources of money that can be used in determining overall family or personal income. Individuals who are self-employed often take deductions out of their income to account for depreciation. The court may opt to add these back into income for the purposes of child support or alimony. It is also quite common for self-employed individuals to deduct certain expenses related to travel or entertainment from their income. This actually diminishes personal income, so the court can add them back into the equation when attempting to calculate how much child support or alimony is ultimately owed.

There is also income that an individual may not have reported, or that is earned off the books. This is often a debated issue within legal cases regarding child support or spousal maintenance. A person’s lifestyle can also be taken into account when attempting to prove income. If an individual claims to be living in poverty, yet they are constantly seen at the finest restaurants and wearing designer clothes, the court may call into question their reported income. Courts may look over bank statements and examine testimony related to lifestyle when making their determination.

It is always best to have an experienced attorney working on your side when making an argument for or against imputed income. This is a serious issue that impacts your future financial and emotional well being. Contact Long Island Divorce Lawyers if you have any questions about how income can be imputed. We can also advise you on a number of matters related to child support, spousal maintenance, and anything related to divorce or child custody.

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