On January 1st, 2011, some important changes will take place regarding how child support is calculated.
1. The first major change has to do with the imputation of income to a parent who is either (1) voluntarily unemployed or underemployed; (2) does not participate in the child support proceeding; or (3) does not provide adequate financial disclosure. Typically in the past, the Court would impute minimum wage income to this parent absent extraordinary circumstances. The new statute, however, creates a rebuttable presumption that the parent has income equivalent to the median income of year-round full-time workers as derived from current population reports or replacement reports published by the United States Bureau of the Census. Although the statute is unclear as to which specific report to reference, our research has revealed that this creates a presumption that a parent is earning $41,000.00 per year.
IF YOU DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN A CHILD SUPPORT PROCEEDING AFTER JANUARY 1st, 2011, THE COURT WILL IMPUTE APPROXIMATELY $41,000.00 PER YOU IN INCOME TO YOU, RESULTING IN AN EXTRAORDINARY AMOUNT OF CHILD SUPPORT BEING ENTERED AGAINST YOU.
The statute, however, provides guidance as to how to rebut this presumption. In order for the court to impute income at an amount other than the median income of year-round full-time workers as derived from current population reports or replacement reports published by the United States Bureau of the Census, the court must make specific findings of fact consistent with the requirements of this paragraph. The party seeking to impute income has the burden to present competent, substantial evidence that:
a. The unemployment or underemployment is voluntary; and
b. Identifies the amount and source of the imputed income, through evidence of income from available employment for which the party is suitably qualified by education, experience, current licensure, or geographic location, with due consideration being given to the parties' time-sharing schedule and their historical exercise of the time-sharing provided in the parenting plan or relevant order.
Except as set forth in above, income may not be imputed based upon:
a. Income records that are more than 5 years old at the time of the hearing or trial at which imputation is sought; or
b. Income at a level that a party has never earned in the past, unless recently degreed, licensed, certified, relicensed, or recertified and thus qualified for, subject to geographic location, with due consideration of the parties' existing time-sharing schedule and their historical exercise of the time-sharing provided in the parenting plan or relevant order.
2. The second major change is that the guidelines will no longer discount child care expenses (daycare and/or aftercare) by 25% as previously done. These expenses will factor into the guidelines on a dollar for dollar basis.
3. The third major change is that the Court is now required to factor the tax consequences of dependency exemptions, dependent care tax credit and earned income credit in determining child support.
4. The fourth major change is that a parent who exercises 20% of overnights with the child and/or children will now be entitled to a reduction in child support. The previous number of 40% required a parent to have 146 overnights. The new percentage only requires 73 overnights. This can usually be accomplished with an every other weekend and one weeknight schedule.