Imputing Income

Oct 23, 2013

When a judge’s order decides the amount of alimony or child support, income may be imputed to a party who is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed.  This was well illustrated in a recent New Jersey Appellate Division case, Barnes v. Barnes.

In Barnes, the parties were divorced in 2004 and permanent alimony of $120 per week was awarded to the wife.  Six years later, the husband filed a motion to terminate his alimony obligation because of a disability which, he alleged, would not allow him to work.  The judge found that there were changed circumstances and changed the amount of alimony to $90 per week.  The wife also claimed that she was disabled and could not work, but the judge rejected this argument and imputed income to her.

 The Appellate Division affirmed. The court explained that a judge may impute income to a person if he or she is voluntary underemployed or unemployed.  It also stated that an alimony award should involve the consideration of “the real facts and circumstances of each party’s financial situation including actual income, expenses, support from other sources and potential earning capacity.” The appellate court held that the trial judge carefully reviewed the parties’ financial information and properly imputed the correct amount of income to the wife, correctly modifying the alimony award.

This case explains the method of imputing income to a party that is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed.  It is important to remember that a court is permitted to impute income if it finds that a party is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed.

If you have questions about your financial support orders, please contact the New Jersey divorce lawyers at Sarno da Costa D’Aniello Maceri LLC at 973-274-5200.