When determining an obligation for child support and alimony, the court must determine what each party’s income is. Sometimes a person is unemployed or only working part-time. The court will then determine what that person’s ability to earn an income is and then “impute” or make up an appropriate income for that person. Imputation can occur on behalf of the payor or the payee; the Court only has to make a determination that the person is underemployed.
A person is generally imputed based on a 40 hour work week. For example, if a person makes $10 an hour and works 15 hours a week, their imputed income would be $400 per week, instead of the $150 per week that they earn part-time. Income imputation is especially important for child support purposes, where both parties have an obligation to earn an income and support their child. A person is certainly not obligated to work; however, if they choose not to, they will be operating at a financial deficit because they will be receiving support based on the assumption that they are earning the imputed income. Therefore, it is to the imputed party’s benefit to obtain a job earning at least the imputed amount.