What is the imputation of income for support payments?

On behalf of Gary Kirk of Kirk Montoute LLP posted in Family Law on Friday, January 16, 2015.

Spousal Support Guidelines and Child Support Guidelines help Alberta residents calculate the amount of each of those kinds of payments. While basic child support is established by law, spousal support is not, though judges often use the Spousal Support Guidelines as recommendations when deciding how much the payor will pay and for how long.

A support issue that occasionally comes up, both in child support and spousal support cases, is the imputation of income. Imputing income means attributing more income to a person than the person actually earns. For example, if a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, then the equivalent of the amount of income the parent could be earning may be attributed to him or her.

Imputing income to a former spouse can result in an increase or a decrease in the amount of support payments, depending on which spouse, the payor or the recipient, is underemployed or unemployed. In some cases, spouses claim that certain kinds of losses, such as rental losses of farm losses, should result in a lower support payment, and it may be possible for the other spouse to challenge that claim and impute income.

In any case, the calculation of an appropriate support amount depends on an accurate determination of income. Unfortunately, some spouses try to hide income or avoid employment in order to unjustly affect the support obligation. If you suspect that your former spouse or co-parent is doing this, then an Alberta family lawyer can explain your legal options for holding the other party accountable.

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