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What happens when one party seeks to impute income to the other party for the purposes of calculating child support? In a recent decision, the court considered that very question when a mother brought a motion for a temporary order for sole custody and child support.
The Mother Leaves
The parties met in or around April 2017. They had one child together, who was born on October 17, 2018.
In July 2018, the father bought a home. The mother and her daughter (from a previous relationship) moved in with him. In March 2020, the mother left the home with her daughter and the parties’ child.
The Father’s Financial Circumstances
The father, who was previously married for 12 years, had two children from that marriage. In 2016, the father was ordered to pay his former spouse $6,572 per month in child support and $12,085 per month in spousal support based on an annual income of $550,000.
The father, who was a dentist and owned his own practice, had a reported income of $850,065.62 in 2016, $693,651.53 in 2017 and $528,012.52 in 2018. The father did not provide the court with any documentation in support of his 2019 income or his current income. The father simply indicated that his income may be “significantly” lower in 2020.
A Claim for Undue Hardship Requires Evidence
The mother sought to impute an income of $550,000 per year to the father on the basis that it was deemed to be the father’s income in the context of the dissolution of his marriage with his previous partner. In refusing to do this, the court explained that it did not know the basis upon which the father and his former partner came to that figure. In light of this, the court indicated that it would have to hear evidence to determine whether there were underlying facts upon which income could be imputed to the father pursuant to the Federal Child Support Guidelines. The court concluded that the more appropriate approach was to base the father’s support obligations on his most recently demonstrated income, which was from 2018. The father was therefore ordered to pay the mother child support in the amount of $3,763 per month on an annual income of $492,153 (when the tax treatment of the father’s dividends were taken into consideration, his 2018 income for support purposes became $492,153).
While the father tried to claim undue hardship, the court found that the father failed to provide any current financial information/documentation in support of that claim. As a result, the court concluded that paying a table amount of child support would be reasonable.
The mother was also granted primary residence of the child. However, the father was granted parenting time. While the court found that neither party provided much evidence of any particulars of the father’s care of the child, it concluded that the father should not be precluded from having a meaningful relationship with the child.
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