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"Imputed income" in child support situations

This Pennsylvania blog's ongoing discussion of how income is calculated for child support purposes continues today. One special situation that frequently comes up in child support cases is when one parent believes that the other parent is not earning as much income as he or she reasonably could, as this may be an effort to avoid paying child support.

Under Pennsylvania law, each parent is presumed to be earning what or he or she is actually capable of earning. And, as the assumption is parents would want to do what is best for their children. In this case, this means providing financial security. However, the law also recognizes that parents do from time to time earn less than what they could for good reasons.

For example, a Philadelphia resident will not get a lower child support obligation if he or she is fired for breaking workplace rules or for another good cause. Likewise, walking away from a job, even if it is for something apparently noble, like getting an education or changing professions, will not change a person's child support.

Moving to a lower paying job will also not be grounds to lower child support. Similar rules apply to situations in which one parent is not working when child support gets determined, but does have the proven ability to find a full-time position.

But, the court will give due credit to a parent who loses his or her job. This could be because of a layoff or some sort of economic or uncontrollable life circumstance that leads to job loss, or the inability to get a steady job.

Figuring out income questions is probably the most difficult part of a child support calculation. These sorts of questions often are best resolved with the help of an experienced Pennsylvania family law attorney.

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