Imputation of Income in calculating Spousal Maintenance & Child Support

Imputation of Income comes into play with both calculating spousal maintenance and child support.

Imputed income is defined in the Minnesota Statutes as the estimated earning ability of a parent based on the parent’s prior earnings history, education and job skills, and on availability of jobs within the community for an individual with the parent’s qualifications.

Generally, income is imputed only if a party refuses to acknowledge their unemployment or under employment. Note however income is not imputed to a homemaker who is the primary caregiver for the children when the caregiver continues the same part time job the caregiver had during the marriage. Income may be imputed when a party is not a caregiver and chose not to work during the marriage. 

A new addition to the Minnesota Statutes defines gross income for child support to include spousal maintenance received in the current proceeding or pursuant to a prior order. Spousal maintenance paid to a prior spouse or in the current proceeding is deducted from the gross income of the obligor.

The new child support statute creates “potential income” which replaces the concept of imputed income, which applies to both parents. Potential Income may be based on the following:

1.    “Probable” earnings based on employment potential, recent work history, and occupational qualifications in light of job availability and earnings “in the community.”

2.    Amount of unemployment compensation or workers compensation

3.    150% of the federal or state minimum wage for full time employment.

Because spousal maintenance will now be included in gross income for calculation of child support, spousal maintenance must be determined first in order to calculate child support. However, because spousal maintenance is based on need, the amount of child support needs to be considered in determining the amount of the obligee’s need.