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What is imputed income in a Georgia child support case?

This blog has discussed the issue of child custody and some of the general factors that go into courts deciding where children will live when their parents are not together. Another issue that often goes hand in hand with the question of physical custody is that of child support. As a general rule, the non-custodial parent, that is, the one who the children do not live with most of the time, will be required to pay some support amount to the custodial parent.

The amount of child support ordered depends on many factors, and the state of Georgia has guidelines and worksheets to help calculate that amount. Basically, the gross incomes of both parties are considered, and after certain deductions are taken, a percentage is applied to each party which becomes that party's financial responsibility. But what happens if one party's income cannot be determined?

Georgia Code section 19-6-15(f)(4) provides for this type of circumstance. The statute stipulates that if a person's income cannot be determined based upon reliable evidence such as tax returns, pay stubs or the like, the court may 'impute' to that person an income equal to the minimum wage times a 40-hour work week, if the proceeding is for the original establishment of a support order. In the case of a modification, the party failing to provide reliable evidence of income may be liable for a 10 percent increase in support amount for each year since the original order was entered.

These are just basic statutory rules for the imputation of income to a party in a child support case. A person to whom income is imputed may ask for a rehearing and submit reliable evidence of actual income at that time. Also, there are other rules that may apply if a parent is being willfully or voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, which we may discuss in a later post. Anyone with child support questions may wish to consider contacting an experienced Georgia family law attorney.

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