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Can Child Support Be Based on More than Present Income?

On Behalf of | May 27, 2019 | Child Support

Can child support be based on more than present income in a North County or Carlsbad divorce?  California family law establishes clear guidelines for the calculation of child support.  However, it is interesting to note that child support is not simply based upon present earnings for either spouse.  The Court is to look at each spouse’s ability to pay and their needs.

One recent appellate court case helps to put the issue into light.  During the process of the divorce in the lower court, the spouses are disputing child support.  The husband is employed and earning income as an investment banker.  The wife had left her well paying job as a marketing executive less than 10 years before the divorce to raise the couple’s child.

She had since taken a job with a new company, but was not being compensated as the business was a “start-up.”  She argued that it was important to re-establish herself in the workforce which was the reasoning for taking a job without income.

The husband argued that the present non-paying job was preventing her from seeking paid employment that would alter the child support calculations, and asked the court to “allocate” income to the wife for the purpose of child support.

The trial court agreed with the husband noting “The problem with not imputing an appropriate level of income to Wife is it distorts the financial reality of this situation.”  The trial court imputed (assigned for the purposes of calculating child support) $75,000 in annual income to the wife.

The wife appealed the decision, however the First District Court of Appeal affirmed the decision of the lower court noting “When determining each parent’s income for purposes of calculating the amount of child support, the trial court is not limited to a consideration of the parent’s actual income.  The court may, in its discretion, consider the earning capacity of a parent in lieu of the parent’s income, consistent with the best interests of the children.”

The issues surrounding the question of “can child support be based on more than present income in a North County or Carlsbad divorce?” require extensive legal expertise and experience.  If you are concerned about the apparent unfairness of income in a child support issue within a North County San Diego divorce or require the services of proven and seasoned family law attorneys we invite you to contact us or call 760-389-3927 to schedule an appointment.