Income comes into play in many aspects of a divorce. Child support and spousal support, along with the division of assets, require information about both spouses’ income to be calculated according to California family law statute.

This income information includes how much a spouse makes as well as how much they can make. If one spouse is not employed, yet is deemed to be employable, their income may be imputed in certain cases.

Imputed income is what their income could be, given the job market where they live and their earning capacity. When determining child support, the courts take into consideration the income of the parents and the residential time allocation. In many cases, the primary caregiver does not work or works only part-time. Imputed income can be applied to someone not working or not earning what he or she is capable of earning.

If the person expecting to earn cannot find a job, they may be ordered to seek work, with a seek work order. This type of order will require they make a good faith effort at finding employment and they must submit proof of that effort to the courts and the other spouse. If they do not find work or do not put in a good faith effort at that point, the courts may impute their income and adjust the support orders accordingly, taking into consideration the imputed income.

Keep in mind that income can be imputed at minimum wage, if there are no jobs available in the person’s desired field or if they have been out of the workforce for several years. Also, in absence of a work or earning history if the supported spouse has never worked, the courts can impute their income at minimum wage.

With spousal support, in most cases, it is expected that the supported spouse makes a good faith effort at finding work and thus eventually become self-supporting. Income may be imputed in cases where it is clear the supported person could work but appears to be making the choice not to.

Since spousal support is based in part off of financial need, spousal support can be lowered once income is imputed for the supported spouse. This works in part to motivate spouses to find work as well as leveling the playing field for the spouse who is providing all the support. It is important to note that income will not be imputed simply upon the request of the spouse paying support. It needs to be demonstrated to the court that the supported spouse could find work but is choosing not to. Without this key element, the courts may not find imputed income as fair. Speak to an attorney if you want the courts to impute income for your former spouse.

If you have questions about support calculations and imputed income and are in the Los Angeles, Pacific Palisades or Beverley Hills area, family law attorney Mark H. Karney can provide expert and efficient legal counsel. As a Certified Family Law Specialist, Los Angeles family law attorney Mark H. Karney can work with you to achieve a support amount that is accurate and fair, given the circumstances. Call our Los Angeles office today at 310-564-5710; email us at or contact us through our online form today to schedule a free consultation.