If you are unemployed or underemployed, the court has the authority impute your income for child and/or spousal support purposes. In other words, they will treat it as if you were earning more than you actually are. There is no set formula for this and most appellate decisions will defer to the trial court's findings. The question you really should be asking is how do you show that you were involuntarily unemployed (versus voluntary termination.) If you lost your job due to market conditions or downsizing or some other reason that was not your fault, your argument against imputed income becomes much stronger. Talk to a family law attorney and they should be able to give you an idea of what evidence you can gather to support your argument based on the specifics of your case.
Legal disclaimer: The response does not form an attorney-client relationship. Further, the response is not intended to create nor does it create a duty to answer additional questions. The response should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response may change. Attorney Sams is licensed to practice law only in the State of Ohio. All responses are based solely on Ohio law unless stated otherwise.
You need to hire a family law attorney to help you with this case. They may advise you to use an economic/employment expert to testify regarding your situation. This is not inexpensive, but it sounds like the stakes in this case are great enough to make it worthwhile.
IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE: Mr. Piper's response set forth above is not legal advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. Mr. Piper's responses to all questions posted on AVVO are intended to provide general information based upon the his understanding of the facts stated in the question, and are for the general educational purposes of the public, not any specific individual. Also, a particular case may involve additional facts and circumstances which might invalidate some or all of the concepts provided in this answer and therefore you should not rely upon this answer in any individual situation. In order to offer legal advice about this or any similar situation, a qualified attorney would likely need to consider many factors not stated in the question and would need to question the potential client in order to clarify the specific facts operable in that case. If you would like to obtain specific legal advice about this issue, it is recommended that you contact an attorney in your state. Mr. Piper is licensed to practice law in the State of Ohio, and may be contacted directly via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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