Many couples who have minor children in the state of Georgia and are in the process of separating must address the issue of child support. In many cases, one parent will have custody of the children and the other parent will pay child support. Even in situations involving joint or split custody, however, if one parent’s income is significantly higher than the other’s, then the parent with the higher income will be ordered by a court of law to pay child support. A unique problem is created when courts must determine how to interpret income for parents who are unemployed or underemployed while calculating child support. Often times, a skilled attorney can help an individual determine how to calculate a proper child support obligation under applicable Georgia law.

The Goal of Imputation

The reasoning behind the imputation of income on non-custodial parents is so that the court can ensure that child support is calculated in a fair and uniform manner that will deter non-custodial parents from either terminating their employment positions or seeking lower paying jobs in order to avoid the high threshold of child support obligations. Despite these goals, a number of individuals argue that calculating child support based on “imputed” income is naturally unfair to non-custodial parents because employment can be particularly difficult to obtain. In consideration of these complaints, however, the state of Georgia has yet to offer a compromise.

Applicable Georgia Law Regarding Imputation

If there is the absence of reliable evidence about a parent’s income, a court in Georgia will assign that parent’s income as at least minimum wage. If the other parent, however, believes that this minimum wage income is too low, the parent can ask the court to further inquire into the income of the parent whose income was determined. Ultimately, the parent might be forced to provide the court with proof of the other parent’s higher income. In the event that a parent is unemployed either voluntarily or involuntarily or underemployed, courts seek to determine the substantial likelihood that the parent could apply his or her occupational skills and education in order to obtain employment. Several specific factors a court will regard in these situations include:

  • The parent’s past and present unemployment,
  • The parent’s education and training,
  • Whether unemployment or underemployment is appropriate or reasonable,
  • The parent’s ownership of valuable assets or resources that seem inappropriate,
  • The parent’s health,
  • The parent’s ability to work, and
  • The parent’s role as a caretaker.

If the court determines that the parent was able to work in the past, then there is a great likelihood that the court will impute a higher income on the parent due to that parent’s ability to demonstrate working ability.

Contact a Seasoned Attorney

In a large number of Georgia child support guidelines, a full-time minimum wage income will be assumed for both parents without evidence of actual income. A skilled divorce attorney can often help parties seeking the end of a marriage. If you would like to talk with one of the family law attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum, P.C., either fill out our online form or call the firm at 678-736-7700 in order to schedule your consultation.