Written by attorney Helen Clare Wallace

How Ohio Courts Impute Income For Child Support When One Parent is Unemployed or Underemployed

In Ohio, Courts can impute (assign) income to a parent for purposes of calculating child support if the Court finds the parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. Your attorney can help you establish in a court hearing that a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. In deciding if an individual is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed, the court must determine if the change was voluntary (meaning unemployment or underemployment was of the parent's own will, or without compulsion), and also if it was made with due regard to the obligor’s income producing abilities and his duty to provide for the continuing needs of the child (or children). See Woloch v. Foster (1994), 98 Ohio App. 39, 86; Rock v. Cabral (1993), 67 Ohio St. 3d 108 (finding that a mother, who had a degree in accounting, was voluntarily underemployed as a weaver and imputing an income of $14,000 that she could have earned if she worked as an accountant).

Once you have established that the parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, then the Court can determine how much income to impute (or assign) to him or her for purposes of determining how much child support he or she must pay. O.R.C. 3119.01(C)(5) defines income for purposes of calculating child support for a parent who is unemployed or underemployed as the sum of the gross income of the parent and any potential income of the parent. Potential income, under O.R.C. 3119.01 (C)(11) means the following for a parent who the Court has determined in voluntarily unemployed or underemployed: Imputed income that the Court determines the parent would have earned if fully employed as determined from the following criteria: Prior employment experience; Education; Physical or mental disabilities, if any; Availability of employment in the geographic area where parent resides; Prevailing wage and salary levels in geographic area; Special skills and training; Evidence the parent has ability to earn imputed income; Age and special needs of child whom support is being calculated for; Parents increased earning capacity because of experience; Any other relevant factor, and any imputed income from an non-income producing assets of parent.

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