Income Imputation in a Missouri Divorce

author by David Betz on Oct. 12, 2017

Divorce & Family Law Divorce & Family Law  Divorce Divorce & Family Law  Family Law 

Summary: Additional income for child support can be imputed by the Missouri court if a parent is unemployed, not working full-time, or does not have sufficient income as per their full potential to earn and support the children.

When parents decide to divorce, the children in the family are always deeply impacted. Among the various factors that need to be addressed in a divorce, child custody and support are generally the most important.

Whatever the reasons or circumstances for the divorce, it is the primary duty of the parents to be able to financially support their children. The Missouri courts take child support seriously and are prepared to deal with situations where parents are not able to financially secure their children in the advent of a divorce.

Child support in Missouri

Missouri courts usually calculate child support finances based on the gross monthly income of parents. There are certain guidelines that determine the way ahead. The courts take into account factors such as the parents’ salary and wages, any overtime or commission amounts, bonuses, severance payments, social security, veterans benefits if any,  dividends, annuities and capital gains, etc. Apart from these, the court also takes into consideration the financial resources, the standard of living, any child care expenses that are needed for the parent to continue work, the financial needs and resources of the child, and the physical and legal custody arrangements made for the children.

Moreover, if a court determines that any parent is voluntarily earning less than they could, they can increase the child support obligation of the parent by imputing or assigning additional income to that parent in the name of child support.

Imputed income

Additional income for child support can be imputed by the Missouri court if a parent is unemployed, not working full-time, or does not have sufficient income as per their full potential to earn and support the children. This is determined on the basis of the parents work history, qualifications and training received. The courts impute income in cases of voluntary unemployment as well as voluntary under-employment.

Voluntary Under-employment

A parent is said to have voluntary under-employment if they choose to voluntarily reduce their earning capacity or income. Situations such as quitting a well-paying job, refusing a promotion or delaying a commission or a bonus in order to pursue low-level employment are examples of voluntary under-employment.

The Missouri court often considers a parent unemployed even if the reason for leaving a job is justified. The court reviews the following factors to determine if a parent needs additional child support finance.

  • Parents age, physical and mental health

  • Parents educational background

  • The financial needs and current assets  of the parent

  • Efforts made by the parent to obtain or remain employed

  • The job market

  • The best interests of the child and the financial support the child needs

Voluntary unemployment

Voluntary unemployment is considered if a parent chooses not to work at all despite the parent’s capability to obtain work and aid child support. Even if a parent quits their job, gets laid off or is terminated, and refuses to seek new employment, the parent is considered voluntarily unemployed.

Imputing income for unemployed or underemployed parents

The Missouri court will scan through the financial reports filed by the parents during the divorce and then determine the amount of the income award that the parent should receive. In cases where the voluntarily unemployed or underemployed parent has no financial record, the court will impute a full-time minimum wage. A parent who has been assigned child support finance can file documents to either increase or decrease the award amount.

Contact the Betz Law Firm in St. Louis, MO for better understanding of child support. Call us at (314) 801-8488.

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