Imputing Income for Utah Child Support Purposes

The issue of child support often accompanies divorce and other types of custody cases. Parents have a duty to provide support for their children. When the parents of a child live together, children tend to receive parental support without court involvement. But, if parents separate, it may be necessary to obtain a child support order.

In Utah, the amount of child support a court will order depends on the income of the parents. Usually, child support calculations are based on pay stubs or tax returns. However, sometimes a parent lacks employment history or is currently unemployed. In other cases, a parent may be attempting to game the system by maintaining a low income. If this is the situation, it might be necessary for the court to impute income.

What is Imputation in the Context of Child Support?

Imputation is when the court pretends that a parent has a higher income than they actually have. The imputed income amount is used to calculate the child support amount.

How likely is the Court to Impute Income to an Unemployed Parent?

With some exceptions, if the other parent asks, the unemployed parent will be imputed to at least minimum wage. This is based on Utah Code § 78B-12- 203(7)(c) setting the minimum imputation amount.

What are the Exceptions to Imputation?

There are four basic exceptions a parent can invoke to avoid an imputation of income. First, if daycare costs more than what the parent to be imputed can earn, there will be no imputation. Second, if a parent is physically or mentally unable to earn minimum wage, no income will be imputed. Third, if parents are engaged in training for basic job skills, they can avoid imputation. Fourth, if a child has an unusual need for the parent to be at home, imputation may be avoided. For any of these exceptions to apply, the situation must not be temporary in nature.

Is an Attorney’s Assistance Helpful in regard to Income Imputation?

Yes. If you are seeking to impute income to the other parent, you may be facing an uphill battle. Unless you are settling for minimum wage, you will need to build and prove your case. If you are facing an attempt to impute income to you, you will be facing someone building a case against you. An attorney can help you in either situation.