Dad Gets Imputed Income for Child Support Due to Impressive Resume
Tennessee child support case summary on imputed income.
The wife in this Tennessee case filed for divorce in 2003. At the time of the divorce, the parties had two sons, ages 3 years and 7 months. Under the parenting plan, the mother was named the primary residential parent with 230 days per year parenting time. The father was awarded 135 days of parenting time, and was ordered to pay $950 per month in child support, which included $414 in school and daycare expenses.
Various other motions followed, including a 2012 petition by the state on the father’s behalf to reduce his child support obligation. That petition was filed because the father had applied for a state-sponsored public assistance program. The state noted that there had been a significant variance between the amount he had been ordered to pay and the amount called for by the guidelines.
The court ultimately decided that the obligation should be $915 per month, but that only $536 of this amount was enforceable by a contempt petition. It ordered a sale of the marital residence to satisfy the past due obligation.
On the modification motion, the court set the father’s income at $2,600 per month. It found that the father was “somewhat underemployed,” since he was working part time for a moving company despite having a master’s degree in journalism. It found that there was a significant variance, and set the father’s obligation at $152 per month. This was later modified to $318 per month, since the court also imputed income from a $107,000 inheritance that the father had received. The father then appealed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals.
After addressing a number of other issues, the appeals court turned to the child support obligation. The primary issue was the lower court’s finding of voluntary underemployment. The appeals court noted that income can be imputed to a parent in such a case, and reviewed whether the finding was appropriate in this case.
After reviewing the evidence, the court agreed that the lower court’s finding was supported by the evidence. It pointed out that the father’s resume as a journalist was “indeed impressive.” He was well educated, and had high paying positions in the past. Even though the father testified as to some problems with his knee, it noted that he had not proven that he was physically disabled or unable to keep a full time job. The court also noted that the father’s actual income, including social security, was $1926 per month, and it wasn’t a big leap to impute an additional $674 per month.
The appeals court then reviewed the actual child support calculation based upon this amount of income, and concluded that the trial court had set support at an appropriate amount.
After reviewing a number of other alleged errors, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling and taxed the costs of the appeal to the father.
No. M2015-01447-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 31, 2016).
See original opinion for exact language. Legal citations omitted.
To learn more, see Child Support Laws in Tennessee.
See also Tennessee Parenting Plans and Child Support Worksheets: Building a Constructive Future for Your Family featuring actual examples of parenting plans and child support worksheets from real cases available on Amazon.com.