An amount of child support needed to be determined for Husband to pay. The trial court found that the husband was voluntarily unemployed. It also said that he was not willing to pay the necessary support for his children. So, the court imputed $17,500 per month to him when calculating support. This was the amount of money he was living off each month. To impute income is to figure out what it is from information other than the usual financial information.
If a party is not making a good-faith effort to earn sufficient income, the court may set a support obligation at a level higher than the parent’s actual income. But, the award must be based on the party’s skills and experience.
In determining a party’s earning capacity, the court should examine (1) the work and earnings history of the parent, (2) the parent’s educational background, (3) the parent’s occupational qualifications, and (4) prevailing job opportunities in the geographic area. In determining a party’s earning capacity, a court should only consider evidence presented, not mere guesswork.
When calculating the amount of income to impute, the trial court may consider the supporting parent’s income from previous employment. However, a court should not base its income calculation on outdated information that no longer reflects prospective income.
Husband had been involuntarily terminated from his CFO position at the family business during the divorce. No evidence was presented at trial that the husband could obtain a job earning $17,500 per month. Therefore, the trial court decision was reversed. The case was sent back to the trial court for a proper determination of how much income should be imputed to him based on his earning capacity, not his expenses.
In re Marriage of Liszka, 2016 IL App (3d) 150238.
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