Imputed Income For Child Support
In line with a substantial body of case law on the subject, Fam.C. § 4058 vests trial courts with discretion to consider a parent’s earning capacity “in lieu of” that parent’s income, but consistent with the children’s best interests. [Fam.C. § 4058(b); Marriage of Lim & Carrasco (2013) 214 CA4th 768, 775; Marriage of Barth (2012) 210 CA4th 363, 375;Mendoza v. Ramos (2010) 182 CA4th 680, 684–685, 105 CR3d 853, 857; see also Fam.C. § 4053(d)—each parent should pay for child support “according to his or her ability”]
This is one of the areas where § 4050 et seq. expressly recognizes the need for trial court discretion in fixing child support. Except for the express condition that reliance on earning capacity be consistent with the child’s best interests, but subject to affirmative findings on current ability and opportunity to earn (“Regnery test,”), the statutory scheme in no way limits the circumstances under which the earning capacity standard may be used “in lieu of” actual income or otherwise restricts the court’s discretion in the manner in which it may consider earning capacity. A “bad faith” finding is not a prerequisit. [Moss v. Super.Ct. (Ortiz) (1998) 17 C4th 396, 424; see Marriage of Sorge (2012) 202 CA4th 626, 643, 134 CR3d 751, 761, fn. 6—when parent’s actual income does not adequately reflect his or her earning capacity and station in life, court may impute income consistent with parent’s earning ability that better serves child’s best interests. Marriage of Bardzik (2008) (tracing historical development of imputed income/earning capacity doctrine in child support calculation and collecting cases) is the case the court will look to regarding imputation of income. It is the other parents burden to prove the ability to earn. This is a very important issue and can have a huge impact on your child support case. Often we will have to employ a vocational expert to prove the factors and meet the burden of imputation of income or imputed income.
If you have an issue with imputed income, contact our office for a free initial consultation. We have offices located in Riverside, Temecula and Anaheim