Income & Calculating Child Support in a SC Divorce

Income & Calculating Child Support in a SC Divorce

Imagine you are going through a contentious divorce case with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. You are so caught up in your divorce that you stop performing well at work and you decide to quit your job. Now your spouse wants to ask you to pay child support and wants to use your income from your former employment to calculate the obligation. Can they do that?

Unfortunately, the answer is likely yes. Under South Carolina child support law, if a court finds that one parent is voluntarily underemployed, it may decide to “impute” income to that spouse based on their earning potential. This means that when one spouse is only working part-time or voluntarily quits their job, a court may impute your income to a full-time job or your prior income, respectively. Generally, courts will examine a spouse’s age, work history, educational background, or other pertinent skills or abilities. If a court does opt to impute income, it is potentially detrimental to the obligor.

Voluntary versus Involuntary Unemployment

A court will only impute income to a parent where the parent is voluntarily under- or unemployed. In contrast, there are several circumstances under which a court would find a parent’s income was reduced based on circumstances outside of the parents’ control:

  • Where a parent has a physical or mental disability that hinders the parent’s ability to work
  • Where a parent has to care for a child with a physical or mental disability that hinders a parent’s ability to work to their full potential
  • Where a parent is laid off due to budget cuts or other company policies
  • Where a parent is actively seeking a job (using tools like a job diary) but has not been able to find one

These factors point to the fact-specific nature of child support inquiries and the importance of hiring an experienced attorney to help bring out relevant facts so the court can make an informed decision.

What Will A Court Impute My Income As?

If a court finds imputation of income is appropriate because a parent is intentionally earning less than they are able to, the court will consider a variety of factors, including but not limited to

  • The parent’s work history and past income
  • The parent’s income earned by individuals in comparable industries with similar educational background
  • The parent’s educational background
  • Whether the parent is receiving alimony pursuant to the current divorce case
  • Whether the parent has any income-generating assets, including but not limited to rental properties

Based on these factors, a court will determine child support based on a parent’s potential income.

Contact our Experienced Mt. Pleasant Child Support Attorneys Today

Child support obligations are largely determined based on what a court determines the obligor and obligee’s gross incomes are. Accordingly, it is important to understand if you are involved in a case where either you or your spouse could have your incomes imputed to higher than your current level of income. The experienced Mount Pleasant family law attorneys at Klok Law Firm LLC can help walk you through and argue for an equitable child support amount.

Contact us today for a free consultation.