Whenever a case involves children, a court has to ensure that the best interest of the child is protected at all times. As such, during a divorce, the court needs to determine the earning potential of each of the parents before deciding on child support. This means the court has to establish what each parent can pay toward the financial support of the children.
While one may assume that the parent who has the larger responsibility in regards to physical custody will be the one that earns the right to receive support, a court will always consider all the facts. A Texas court considers the most current wages earned, but may decide that one of the parents is not earning to their potential and will manipulate the calculations by assigning a higher income to that parent. For example, if one of the parties is of the opinion that the other party is deliberately underemployed in order to receive more child support, the court may decide to impute income to the underemployed person.
As courts aim to ensure the best interest of the child, the ideal in their eyes would be for each parent to earn to their full potential, while still having sufficient time to be a good parent. It is important for a judge to establish if the underemployed or unemployed status of a parent is involuntary or rather an attempt to receive more child support. In order to do this a court looks at three factors — willingness to work, opportunity and ability.
While courts are not unreasonable and will look at the full picture, a consultation with a Texas divorce lawyer on the matter of imputed income may be a good idea. An experienced family law attorney is in the ideal position to clarify the finer detail and provide peace of mind. Best of all one will be assured that the children’s interests will be protected.