By Daniel Exner
Divorce Lawyer, Cordell & Cordell
For a lot of divorced dads, income can fluctuate month to month, especially during these rough economic times with the national unemployment rate hovering between 9 and 10 percent.
To try and be fair to both parties, the court may look at your monthly income from the past 6 or 12 months and establish your income at an average rate.
That way, any alimony or child support orders will not be unfairly based on your high income months or your low income months.
So how does fluctuating income from overtime, inconsistent work, or odd jobs affect the determination of alimony and child support?
Alimony refers to the amount of money the court may order one spouse to pay another in order to maintain the payee spouse’s standard of living or help him or her achieve independence.
Child support is the amount of money one spouse must pay another to help defray the living expenses of marital children.
While the individual factors vary, the court needs to know each spouse’s income and earning potential to make a decision on alimony or child support.
Another issue the court may consider when assessing your “current income” is your earning potential. If you are currently unemployed or underemployed then it is likely there was a time in the past when you made more money than you make right now.
If the court believes you have the ability to make more money and are either avoiding work or under utilizing your time and talents, the court may impute your income at a higher level when it orders support.
The key to establishing your current income is offering an honest and well-documented picture of your financial situation.
You cannot simply ignore the money you receive from sources such as working odd jobs because it still qualifies as income according to the definition of “income available for support” under most likely all state statutes.
If you find yourself in a similar situation with fluctuating or no income, you need to meet with a mens divorce attorney immediately and come up with an approach that reasonably conveys a realistic picture of your finances to the court.
Cordell & Cordell has divorce lawyers located nationwide. To schedule an appointment with one, including Daniel Exner, a Staff Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office, please contact Cordell & Cordell.