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Did you know that the Court has the power to impute an income for the purposes of determining child support?

Separated since 2012, Ethan and Lena are the parents of two children, now aged 16 and 13. At the time of their separation, Lena had been a warehouse manager in a large company for over 15 years. However, a few months ago, Lena decided to voluntarily quit her job.

After much discussion with his new spouse Peter, whom she met in 2013, and who has four children of his own from a previous union, together they agreed that Lena would stay at home for the benefit of their reconstituted family that now includes six children.

Worried about being penalized by his ex-spouse’s decision to quit her job, Ethan wonders if he will have to assume more expenses for their two children.
Did you know that it is possible to impute an income to a parent? For the purposes of determining child support for their two children, Ethan could require that the Court establish an income for Lena, despite the fact that presently she does not earn any income. In support of his request, he could argue, for example, that Lena is making no effort to earn an income or that she actually and of her free will intended to reduce her income, to the detriment of their children. The Court, in determining Lena’s imputed income, would take into account both her earning capacity through employment and her existing assets.

In consequence, should Lena fail to demonstrate that she is currently unable to work, for example, due to a disability or an illness, she could be imputed an income similar to or slightly lower – considering her family obligations – than the one she was earning before quitting her job. The child support payable for their two children would then be based on both Ethan’s income and Lena’s fictitious income.

Should you face such a situation and need further advice, you should consult a lawyer.