Each Party’s Income Pay a Major Factor in Child Support Payments
Video Transcribed: What is imputed income for Oklahoma child support? I’m Oklahoma Attorney James Wirth. We’re doing a series of videos related to questions regarding child support in Oklahoma. And that’s a question that we have today is, what is imputed income? So first off, when we’re talking about child support in Oklahoma, there are guidelines. You plug in certain numbers, it spits out the amount of appropriate child support.
The most important numbers are each party’s income. So that’s where we go to imputed income. So when we’re talking about determining a party’s income, we look at your actual income, but in some circumstances, that may not be the appropriate numbers to use. And it’s statutory as part of the child support guidelines. So you can look at Statute Title 43, section 118B.
And then talking about imputed income is under Subsection C, and then Subsection 3 under that. And what it says is that “If evidence of current or average income of a parent is not available or the most equitable,” meaning the fairest to use, “the court may consider the following factors in determining the party’s monthly gross income.” And those are imputed income.
So you didn’t actually earn this amount, we’re going to impute this amount to you because we think it’s the fairest and appropriate thing to do. So the first one is, what are the average wages and hours worked in the parent’s particular industry?
So if they have a certain education that allows them to do a certain job, then we may look at what’s the appropriate amount we could expect someone in that position and job and that geography to earn, and they can be imputed to that amount if it’s appropriate.
The other one is they could be imputed to a minimum wage. A lot of times, if a parent is electing not to work, the court may decide to impute them to a minimum wage.
It was very common to do that at a 40-hour workweek. The statute now allows it to be done for as little as a 25-hour workweek. But that’s one thing they can do is, what’s the minimum wage for a 25-hour workweek or a 40 hour, depending on these circumstances?
The other one or the next one is, is the parent willfully or voluntarily unemployed or underemployed? So sometimes somebody may be going to court specifically trying to get favorable orders.
They’re worried about paying spousal support. They’re worried about paying child support. So they quit their job or they change jobs to one that makes less to try to say to the court, “Well, I’m only making this little amount of money. I can’t afford to pay spousal support. My child support should be very low,” and go along with those.
Well, the court’s going to say, “No. In your circumstances, it looks like you are voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. So we’re going to impute you to what you should be working or should be making if you hadn’t quit that job or if you were actually trying to make as much as possible.” That said, the court doesn’t always grant that.
It depends on the circumstances. There may be valid reasons that a person is unemployed or underemployed, particularly if they’re caring for a child with special needs. Or there are a lot of circumstances that can go into it. And when talking about imputed income, there’s going to be a lot of information that’s potentially relevant to you that you can bring to the court’s attention.
And the next one is looking at the lifestyle of the parent, including the ownership of valuable assets and resources, where it appears inappropriate or unreasonable to use the income that the party’s actually earning. So in those sections, the court may impute it to a higher income just because of the lifestyle that they are living, so that the other parent can afford not to have this disjointed where they’re living like a king with one parent and living like a peasant with the other parent.
They’re going to factor that in, in determining child support. And the last one is the role of the parent as a caregiver of a handicapped or seriously ill child. That could be factored in, in determining the appropriate amount to impute. So those are the factors to consider when determining imputed income. As a lawyer, I’ve got a spreadsheet that I use. So we get a pay stub from a client. We get three years of tax returns from a client.
We look at the earnings to date. And I calculate income five different ways, looking at that and determining what is the most appropriate. And that’s what we’re going to present to the court is what’s most favorable and appropriate for our client.
Then we do the same thing for the opposing party and see what is the most appropriate, what’s the most favorable to our client for the other party’s income. And that’s what we argue. And the other side may argue something different.
And if appropriate, we may argue that it be imputed to a higher wage because they should be working and making more. But that’s a nutshell of imputed income for child support purposes in Oklahoma. If you’ve got more specific questions related to your case, you’re going to want to talk to an attorney about that privately and confidentially. To get that scheduled with somebody at my office, you can go online to makelaweasy.com.