TOOL OF THE DAY: Imputed Income…Bad for Children

CATEGORY: Family Law (Child Support)

What is imputed income? This is where the court can order you to pay child support based on an imaginary amount of money (earning potential), money you might have been earning in the past, money they believe you are capable of earning in the future, rather than actual money. They believe that you owe a duty to your child to pay the child a portion of these future earnings

“…orders for excessive amounts result in lower, not higher, child support payments. [14] States like California and Washington have found that the direct result of establishing support obligations that exceed the ability of obligors to meet them is unpaid arrearages.”[i]

If the courts know that they are hurting your child, how can they keep doing it?

One reason is that the Social Security Title IV-D policy provides incentives to the states for child support awards…the more they order, the more they collect, the more they get from the federal government.

Another is that the judiciary is creating case law that is approving the practice.

Texas Supreme Court decided in Iliff v. Iliff that imputing income in Texas is a legal practice. In fact, they lowered the standards that the court has to meet before they impute someone. The court no longer had to have evidence that a person was voluntarily unemployed in order to impute their income.

Imputing income in family courts means to order a person to pay child support based on an amount of income that the person is believed to be able to earn or has earned in the past. The father in Iliff was being required to pay child support on the same income that he earned during his marriage.

In our opinion, this is a form of slavery. To require a person to pay on money not yet earned. Also it violates several of your constitutional rights to make private decisions based on your beliefs and values. It is most people’s belief that you have a right to pursue happiness. If it makes you happy to live like a monk or to pursue some sort of minimalist or religious way of life, you might be precluded if you have been imputed.

You might see how this can pose problems as well with a parent living their religious beliefs and influencing their children through the type of lifestyle that conveys these religious beliefs.

So beyond the obvious problem of creating uncollectible arrearages and a body of people who are no longer motivated to work because they cannot even maintain the basic necessities in life, you have violated the parent’s constitutional rights, the child’s constitutional rights to be secure and supported to their basic minimums by both parents, and to have each parent convey their beliefs, values, and morals. And in many instances have created a condition where many of the children and parents fall into poverty.

Not to mention the parent is now branded and labeled as a “deadbeat parent.” A stigma that carries automatic assumptions that this parent chose not to support their child. Also an incentive for the parent to battle this parent over their child. And an incentive for the parent to alienate their child from the other parent in order to receive child support.

“The current system is a web of perverse incentives for all involved:

  1.  The child does not receive any benefit from child support paid when they are on TANF.
  2. The custodial parent must risk alienating the other parent by identifying them to be the subject of an enforcement action which could cause him (or her) to avoid contact with the family. Parents who were receiving some informal support may lose that.
  3. The non-custodial parent is generally also low income. They are more likely to prioritize and pay support if they know their child is receiving a direct benefit, which does not happen under the current system.
  4.  If the non-custodial parent is contributing support informally, but directly, to their child, they are not given credit for paying child support.
  5. Child support and human services staff are put in an awkward position of knowing that cooperation and information from the custodial parents and cooperation and payments by the noncustodial parent benefit their own agency. Payments do not directly benefit the child in whose name the support is collected.[ii]

Child support is bad for children with two fit and supportive parents. Agencies that use this money to survive are stripping children of their financial and emotional security and stability.

Child support is a totally failed program. This could have been avoided if they had just followed the basic constitutional principles and respected every individual’s basic inalienable fundamental parental rights as well as their right to proper due process…the right to not have the government invade their private finances before they prove the parent has failed to support the child to the basic minimum standards.

See you back here tomorrow for another Daily Tool! 

Read our book for citations of specific cases that you can use in your arguments to the court when you are arguing for the proper protection of your family rights. [CLICK HERE to get the Parental Rights book “NOT in The Child’s Best Interest.]

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Strategic Parental Rights Strategist, Instructor, Constitutional Scholar, and Author

Divorce Solutions and Child Custody Solutions

Co-author “Not in the Child’s Best Interest” (Book on parental rights and children’s rights)

Co-author “Protecting Parent-Child Bonds: 28th Amendment” (Book includes guide for legislators)


Twitter: (@fixfamilycourts)





[i] The quoted material comes from a study that the NPRM had conducted in order to assist the Child Support Enforcement department with improving their policies and make them more effective.

Tomorrow is your last day to submit your comments or suggestions on how to make Title IV-D more effective. (We made suggestions in this post here that child support should not be calculated on income: ) You can click here to submit your comments: SUGGESTED CHANGES TO TITLE IV-D

[ii] Go to this post for another interesting read on child support and how the way some agencies implement child support has affected Colorado children and parents: Child Support Pass Through Proposal”

*Picture is credited to: “Child Support Pass Through Proposal”

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