Imputed Income and Child Support


My ex wife and I separated in 2011 and divorced in 2012. Two kids - one will be 18 in August 2015. We negotiated a separation agreement (signed in Jan 2012) that stated a fixed child support amount will be paid by me to her, while she pursued a Masters degree. Then, when the degree was obtained in Dec 2014, we would “follow the NC Child Support Guidelines” to determine the amount…it has never been court-ordered. The intent was that she would complete the degree, then find a job that maximized her earning potential. In Dec 2014, she did earn the degree, and has not yet found a job. I have no way to validate her efforts or the positions she is pursuing. Meanwhile I have been paying the maximum child support since her income is $0. She just informed me she has finally found a job that starts in April, but it is not a salary position, and only has the equivalent earning of $1.35/hr over minimum wage. I have researched her earning potential to be more than $60,000, given her degree and qualifications. In my opinion, she is voluntarily underemployed. Although I make considerably more than she does, I have a negative cash-flow each month, due to the large child support payments I’ve been making. We live in the same upper-middle-class neighborhood, and our kids have equal living conditions at each house (50/50 shared custody). Question: What is the impact if I calculate my child support obligation using imputed income of $60,000? To me this is the fair thing to do. It doesn’t seem right for me to incur the financial burden of her lack of initiative and poor decisions regarding employment. Thank you for your comments.


You can file an action for child support and at the hearing put on evidence of her earning potential. If the judge finds that she is intentionally unemployed (or underemployed) in order to collect more child support, he or she will impute income to her when making the child support determination.