Imputation of Income in Calculation of Child Support Considered by North Carolina Court of Appeals

The majority of child support cases in Charlotte are determined using the North Carolina child support guidelines. This is essentially a formula which takes into account a number of basic factors in determining the appropriate amount of child support. One of the most important variables in the child support formula is the income of both of the parents. So, what happens when one of the parents intentionally reduces their income? The trial court may impute income to that parent for purposes of calculating child support.

This issue was recently before the North Carolina Court of Appeals in the case of Thomas vs. Thomas. The trial court imputed $4,000.00 per month of income to the father based upon his actual income (earning $975 per month working part time) in relation to his expenses and the fact that he was living off of, and significantly depleting, his investments in order to maintain his standard of living. The trial court found that the father would be unable to support himself and the children if his investments continued to decrease and that the father acted willfully and in bad faith in refusing to seek “gainful employment” to make up for his investment losses. The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s imputation of income to the father as proper.

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