The State of North Dakota has provided a child support calculator for the general public to use for years. It can be found at this web address, by clicking the word “calculator.” The Family Law Group at SW&L Attorneys has found the State’s calculator can be difficult to use for the general public. In light of the issues and complaints received regarding the State’s calculator, we have created our own child support calculator with the general, non-law-trained, public in mind. It can be found here.
This is the first in a series of blogs that addresses common issues when calculating child support and how these issues are addressed and applied within the child support calculator created by SW&L Attorneys.
This particular blog article addresses imputation of income for child support purposes. “Imputing income” simply refers to a situation in which the law allows for a hypothetical income to be used when calculating child support. There are two general ways in which the law allows for the imputation of income i.e., underemployment and voluntary reduction of income.
Underemployment has been defined as the obligor’s (the “obligor” is the person who pays child support) income being significantly less than the State’s statewide average earnings for persons with similar work history and occupational qualifications. In other words, you are “underemployed” if you don’t make as much as you should.
But this begs the question: How do you calculate North Dakota’s average earnings for persons with similar work history? Also, which jobs qualify as “similar” enough to be applied to an obligor with a unique degree and qualifications? The best answer is “it depends.” And so, these are questions you will want to discuss with an attorney.
Voluntary Reduction Of Income
A voluntary reduction of income has been defined as a voluntary change in employment that the obligor makes for the purpose of reducing his or her child support obligation and may include becoming unemployed. When addressing whether a person’s intent was to reduce their income, the court should take into consideration the obligor’s standard of living, work history, education, literacy, health, age, criminal record, barriers to employment, record of seeking employment, stated reason for changing employment, and likely employment status if the family were intact. Once it is determined that a person has voluntarily reduced their income, it again becomes a question as to what amount of income should be imputed. This is best left to an attorney.
SW&L Attorneys Calculator
Once arriving at the SW&L Attorneys Child Support Calculator, you will see that we replaced the commonly misunderstood term “obligor” with the more intuitive term “payor.” The “payor” is the person who “pays” child support. While entering accurate names for the payor and the payee is not necessary, you will want to provide an accurate number of children for whom child support is being determined.
After entering this information and clicking “next,” you will come to a screen that addresses the payor’s income. On this screen you can see that, unlike the State’s calculator, there is simply one field in which to enter the payor’s “hypothetical” or “imputed” income. Again, you will want to talk to an attorney about what this amount can and/or should be, but feel free to enter your best guesstimates. After all, you can use this calculator as many times as you want for FREE!
Family Law Attorney
After utilizing our child support calculator, if you find you need help with a child support calculation, or just want to talk to someone about child support, please contact SW&L Attorneys’ Family Law Group.