Parents have a legal responsibility to provide financial support to their children. In Illinois, child support obligations are calculated based on state guidelines that look primarily at each parent’s income. While these guidelines work well in many cases, there are exceptions. One possible exception is a case in which a parent’s actual income differs substantially from what they could be earning.
Imputed Income Explained
Whenever reasonable, the Illinois child support calculation will account for each parent’s actual income at the time when the order is established. This helps to ensure a fair and equitable result, and it often provides protection for a parent with few financial resources. However, in some cases, a parent’s actual current income is misleading given their financial resources or their ability to earn. Under these circumstances, the court may decide to use imputed or potential income in the calculation instead.
The Illinois Supreme Court case of In re Marriage of Gosney provides an instructive example of how state courts use the concept of imputed income in child support cases. In reviewing and evaluating the relevant case law, the Illinois Supreme Court found that there are three specific circumstances in which courts can “impute” income to a parent for the purposes of a child support calculation:
When a parent voluntarily left their job
When a parent voluntarily reduced their income in order to avoid paying child support
When a parent passed up offers or opportunities to earn a higher income
The court can use a variety of information to determine an appropriate amount of income to impute. Perhaps most important is the parent’s employment and earning history, including their income from a job that they recently voluntarily left. The court could also consider average salaries in the area for a person with similar skills, experience and education. For a business owner, the court could look at past income statements for the business.
To summarize, an Illinois court can deviate from the child support guidelines to ensure that all parents pay their fair share. In cases in which one parent reduced their income voluntarily, a court may “impute” additional income to them for the purposes of determining how much child support they owe.
Contact Our St. Charles Child Support Attorneys Today
At Goostree Law Group, our lawyers are ready to protect your financial interests in your child support or divorce case. If you have specific questions about imputed income and how it may apply to your situation, we are prepared to help. Contact us at 630-584-4800 to set up a free, confidential consultation with a skilled Kane County child support attorney.