In a down economy, divorcing couples are frequently faced with the issue of calculating child support and maintenance based on income that is lower than it had been in previous years. Especially in a long-term marriage, where the income-earning spouse’s income dropped abruptly near the end of the marriage, this can be very frustrating for the spouse who is seeking support. Matters can be complicated if the spouse requesting support also suspects that the earning spouse is deliberately under-employing him or herself or not reporting all of his or her income.
We recently dealt with this issue in a Cook County case taken to trial. Our firm represented the wife who was seeking a child support calculation based on the husband’s previous six-figure earnings rather his current alleged $20,000 annual income. Based on the testimony and evidence presented, the Court found that the husband was not credible, was under-reporting his income, was capable of earning more income, and was deliberately under employing himself. Thus, it was fair and equitable for the Court to impute more income to the husband–meaning that the Court would use more income than the husband was reporting, to get more child support for the Wife.
Notwithstanding the husband’s bad faith efforts to find employment, the Court did not impute the husband’s six-figure income. The husband, who worked in construction, could more easily defend that this industry has fewer jobs during harder economic times. Nonetheless, based on a well-presented case that demonstrated the history of the husband’s earnings and his current failure to more diligently seek employment, the wife received an increase in support that she otherwise would not.