How Imputed Income Affects a Divorce in Washington State

When a court is determining a child support or alimony amount in divorce, the court will consider the financial resources and assets of each individual. In the event that one individual is capable of paying more than they are currently making, the court may impute income. Here is what you need to know:

What is Imputed Income?

Imputed income simply means that a family court is ordering a parent to pay a child support amount that is based on a higher wage/salary than the parent actually earns. For example, a court may order a part-time worker to pay a child support amount based on a full-time salary.

In What Situations Might a Court Impute Income?

A court will impute a person’s income when a person’s actual income has diminished, but that person’s earning capacity remained the same. In other words, it is used to combat those parents who attempt to cheat the system by working less -- and thereby earning less -- than they actually could so that their child support payment is lower. A person may do the same thing to avoid a high alimony, also known as spousal maintenance or spousal support, order.

A court might impute income if it suspects that an individual is capable of earning more but voluntarily chooses not to. When determining whether or not to impute income, a court will usually consider the following listed below.

  • Whether or not unemployment/underemployment is voluntary
  • The reason for the voluntary under/unemployment
  • The individual’s earning capacity
  • The individual’s other assets

Income may not be imputed if the underemployment or unemployment is due to a disability. A court may choose not to impute income if the individual was fired, laid off or is making diligent efforts to find a higher-paying job.

Do I Need an Attorney When Dealing with Child Support or Alimony?

If you are getting divorced or dealing with child support or alimony disputes, an attorney can be an important resource in helping you receive a fair child support or spousal maintenance order. And if you have questions about imputed income -- and how to prove that income should or should not be imputed – let us help.

At the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, we understand how important spousal maintenance and child support orders are. That’s why we will work tirelessly to advocate on your behalf to ensure that your agreement is fair and just. To schedule a consultation, call 425-460-0550 now or contact us online

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Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
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