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How is Income Calculated in a Georgia Divorce If Your Spouse Is Unemployed or Underemployed?

by Sharon Jackson  on February 17, 2023 under ,

Filing for divorce in Georgia requires calculating both parties’ income to determine alimony, distribution of marital debts, and or child support. Many people going through divorce wonder how is income calculated if either spouse is not currently employed, is underemployed, or hiding income. In these cases, the court can determine an “imputed income” amount to that partyThis income refers to the potential capacity. Learn more about this type of calculated income and why it might be used in a Georgia divorce.

Calculating Imputed Income

The court uses various factors to calculate imputed income, including:

  • Parental assets
  • Current and past income of the divorcing parties
  • The education level of both parties
  • The local job market
  • Past jobs and earning history
  • Current health, criminal records, and age of the parties
  • Acquired job skills
  • The spouses' child caretaker roles

Do you have questions about imputed income during a Georgia divorce? Call Attorney Sharon Jackson to discuss your case today.

What if my spouse is unemployed?

If your spouse is unemployed in Georgia, the Courts will generally impute at least the minimum wage earnings based on a 40-hour work week. Unless special factors apply, most judges believe that everybody can secure employment earning at least minimum wage.

If the judge believes that the spouse has the ability to earn more money, but is deliberately not working, then the judge can impute any reasonable amount to the spouse based on his or her past earnings, education, training, expenses, and other factors. Experienced family lawyers like Attorney Sharon Jackson have years of experience uncovering hidden income and proving what amount the court should impute to the opposing party.

Why is imputed income calculated for Georgia divorce and child custody cases?

If a Georgia court acknowledges this type of income, the spouse's income is viewed as "capable of earning" instead of what they are currently earning. In terms of alimony and child custody, this income is used to establish the income of the divorcing parties. To determine whether it should be included or not, the court reviews factors such as the following:

  • The ages of the children and how much care they subsequently require
  • The reasons behind a spouse's or parent's underemployment or unemployment
  • Whether other assets are present that help each spouse maintain relative financial security

The other factor that can play into whether this income should be utilized is the earning and employment statuses the spouse would enjoy if their family had stayed together. Reasons for underemployment or unemployment the court accepts include:

  • Layoffs due to company downsizing
  • Commission-related income has lowered due to sluggish sales
  • Issues finding a job despite diligent efforts
  • Challenges maintaining a steady work schedule because of childcare

Courts calculate imputed income by considering past work history, education, skills and certifications, new job availability, and prior earnings. A Georgia court also looks at spouses' most recent wages or benefits. If it is impossible to review recent wages due to lacking records, the court will likely use the current minimum wage for full-time employment to calculate.

A court usually calculates this type of income because one spouse expresses concerns that the other party is deliberately unemployed, unemployed or lying about income and assets.

How to File For Divorce in Georgia

If you are filing for divorce in Georgia, working with an attorney with experience in this field is strongly recommended. The legal professional represents you during all meetings with your former spouse and helps you contest incorrect imputed income calculations, if necessary. Your lawyer helps you gather evidence supporting your claim, such as revenue records from your new business that show your earning capacity has diminished.

Georgia Family Law and Divorce Attorney Sharon Jackson can guide you through the divorce process. Call our  office at 678-436-3636, or complete our contact form today for assistance with your divorce.


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