So you and your spouse have split up and you’re thinking that you should be owed more child support than is currently being paid.
In BC, child support is calculated using the Federal Child Support Guidelines along with the parent’s gross income. But what happens if your spouse tries to pay less than what they owe by hiding their income? Or if they are deliberately earning less than what they are capable of? What if your spouse tries to get out of paying child support altogether?
In all of these cases, the court may “impute income” to your spouse. Once the court determines that your spouse is underemployed or intentionally unemployed and not seeking to obtain employment, your spouse’s income will be imputed and the court will order them to pay the appropriate amount of child support. The court imputes income on an evidentiary basis, based on what it believes your spouse is capable of earning or what they actually make.
To determine if your spouse is earning to capacity, the court will apply the following principles:
- Parents who are healthy and can work have a duty to seek employment
- Reasonable income-earning capacity will be based on consideration of a parent’s age
- Limited experience and skills do not justify a failure to pursue employment
- Persistence in un-remunerative employment or unrealistic career aspirations will not be an excuse
- Self-induced reduction in income will not justify the avoidance of child support obligations
The following are some more reasons under section 19 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines for which the court may decide to impute income to your spouse:
- The spouse is exempt from paying federal or provincial income tax
- The spouse lives in a country that has effective rates of income tax that are significantly lower than those in Canada
- The spouse’s property is not reasonably utilized to generate income
- The spouse unreasonably deducts expenses from income
- The spouse is a beneficiary under a trust and is or will be in receipt of income or other benefits from the trust
Remember, the court will need to have sufficient evidence from you to justify imputing income to your spouse.
If you or a loved one are seeking to claim child support and/or to have income imputed, consult Vancouver and Burnaby Family Law Lawyer Andrew Rebane at Resolutions Law Corporation, Burnaby, British Columbia at firstname.lastname@example.org or 778-372-7107