Imputing Income When Both Parties Are Unemployed

Question:Colorado Divorce Attorney

My divorce question is about income used to determine child support.

Both my wife and I have been unemployed for several years with our income almost solely coming from capital gains from stock market trading.

We have been very successful with historic annual returns, but those returns are obviously unsustainable.

For child support purposes, how would a judge impute our incomes if we have both been consistently unemployed and only make money off the stock market?


While I am not licensed to practice in your jurisdiction, I can provide you with some general divorce help for men regarding factors a court might consider when determining imputation of income per the child support laws in your state.

If there is an argument to be made that one party is either voluntarily unemployed or underemployed the court will look to impute income to that party. This may be based upon a determination of your potential income.

The court may consider your education level, your work experience, your mental and physical health and generally your capability to be an able bodied worker. Evidence of past tax returns, pay stubs, employer statements, self-employment, etc. may be needed to determine the appropriate potential income.

If there are exceptional circumstances, such as one party caring for a child that has special needs, the court might take that into consideration as well. In some cases, if the court finds that the parties have not worked for a long period of time, and the parties have little work experience, the court may impute full time minimum wage to the parties.

In your situation, a court may want to consider the past work experience and education of both you and your wife. If either of you have had higher earning jobs in the past, the court can consider that in determining your potential income. If your wife has a degree, that may factor into her ability to earn.

Another issue to take into account is how income is defined in your state. Presuming capital gains are considered income, which is likely, the court can consider that stream of income in determining the imputation of income as well.

As you have stated, the historic returns are not likely to continue on the same trend, and if there is a decline in income, that may be part of the determination of income as well.

Again, I am unable to provide you with legal advice on divorce and this should not be construed as an attorney-client relationship. Consult with a divorce attorney for men.

To schedule an appointment with a Cordell & Cordell mens divorce lawyer, including Maile Kobayashi, an Associate Attorney in the Boulder, Denver, office of Cordell & Cordell, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

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One comment on “Imputing Income When Both Parties Are Unemployed

    I’m amazed that earning potential when unemployed makes any difference at all. I could potentially earn 3x that amount or 1/4 that amount in my next job. Or, could they assume that at the minimum I could get a job at minimum wage working part time at about 30 hours per week? Bizarre.

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