Legal Blog

What Does Imputing Income Mean When Calculating Child Support?

Dealing with child support can be a complicated process. The situation is compounded when someone fails to willingly provide support. We see scenarios from time to time where a parent cannot pay child support due to a legitimate inability to earn income. Other circumstances arise where one is actively earning less income than he is capable of earning. In that scenario, we have a parent who is voluntarily impoverishing himself and the court may decide to impute income based on what the parent should be earning. The imputed income is then used to calculate child support payments.

What kind of scenarios does this involve?  How is imputed income calculated so there isn’t any interruption in making sure your child gets the necessary support?

Typical Scenarios for Lowering Income

In Maryland, we have seen parents deliberately earning a lower income for the purpose of lowering the child support obligation. This can sometimes involve purposely becoming unemployed or leaving a higher paying job to acquire a lower paying job.

As cold-hearted as it sounds, this is a very real scenario for some families. It is a challenging situation when you need the money to support your child. When you work with an experienced divorce attorney, however, we make sure you fight back against this kind of behavior. We know it is not easy when your ex-husband or ex-wife does not contribute his or her share to the support of your children.

In the case of imputing income, it must be determined whether the paying spouse is truly lowering income deliberately, or whether other legitimate circumstances are affecting the rate of pay.

Calculating Imputed Income

Once a determination is made that a parent is voluntarily impoverishing himself, the court must decide what amount of income to impute to that parent. In this situation, the parent’s work and pay history are extremely relevant. Without a recent work history, one may need to hire a vocational expert to render an opinion on what the parent could be earning.


Contact Linda Sorg Ostovitz at or 301-575-0381 so we can help you with a determination of whether you are dealing with a voluntary impoverishment case where income should be imputed.






Linda Sorg Ostovitz is a family law attorney. Her legal experience spans more than 34 years. In this time, she has served as a leader, educator and advocate. Mrs. Ostovitz holds a prestigious fellowship in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Currently, she serves as President for the Business Women’s Network of Howard County, by which she was chosen Woman of Distinction for 2014. Mrs. Ostovitz represents clients in Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll and Baltimore Counties. Her practice focuses exclusively on divorce litigation and mediation, child custody and access, child support, alimony, business valuation, as well as property and asset distribution. In addition to providing legal representation in court, Mrs. Ostovitz provides mediation services to help families come to a fair and legally-sound conclusion outside of the traditional court proceedings.



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