Child Support: What Does It Mean to Impute Income?

In Virginia, the Courts use the Virginia Child Support Guidelines to determine child support. Into a formula the parties input information, including but not limited to the monthly gross incomes of the parties, the cost of health insurance for the child or children, and the cost of work-related daycare. This formula determines an amount of child support that is “presumptively correct.” As child is so heavily based on income, what happens when one parent believes that the other parent is not earning their full potential?

When one parent believes that the other parent is “voluntarily under employed,” they may ask the Court to impute income to the other parent. That is, they can ask the Court to assign the other parent a higher income when calculating the child support guidelines. The person who is claiming that the other is voluntarily under employed has the burden of proving that the other is voluntarily going more gainful employment.

The amount that may be appropriate to impute will vary form case to case. A party may ask the Court to impute income when one parent is employed but voluntarily working fewer hours than they previously had or voluntarily earning less with a good reason. However, the Court may deem it appropriate to assign minimum wage to a party who is voluntarily unemployed. As of January 1, 2022, the minimum wage in Virginia was increased to $11 per hours. It is likely that this increase in minimum wage will impact child support obligations going forward.

A child support determination is not always a straightforward process. If you have questions about child support and need assistance from someone with intimate knowledge Virginia family law, please do not hesitate to contact our firm at 804-423-1382 or to schedule a one-on-one consultation with one of our experienced Virginia attorneys.