Spouse’s Current Salary Versus Potential Income

Question:diana bishara attorney new jersey

My wife has been putting off finding a full-time job until our divorce is complete.

She holds two different master’s degrees in education. Shouldn’t this be considered as potential income when calculating maintenance?


While I am not licensed to practice law in your state, I can give some general guidance on this issue.

Depending on the circumstances, you can request the court impute income to your wife. That means that, when calculating support, the court will treat her income as what she should potentially be earning.

If a court determines that a parent is unemployed, underemployed or earning less than what he or she was previously earning to avoid child support payments, the court can impute a certain amount of additional income to that parent.

In many states, when imputing income, the court takes into account certain factors such as:

a) the reason and intent for the voluntary underemployment or unemployment

b) what the employment status and earning capacity of that parent would have been if the family had remained intact

c) the availability of other assets that may be used to pay support

d) the ages of any children in the parent’s household and child-care alternatives

As far as debt, you need to find out if your state is an equitable distribution state. What that means is that the marital property, which includes debt, will be divided between spouses in a way that is equitable, or fair. 

The court decides what is fair based on a set of factors designed to show how the spouses contributed to the marriage and what each spouse will need to move forward after divorce. The division does not have to be equal.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult a domestic litigation attorney in your area to obtain specific advice as to the laws in your state and how they impact your potential case.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including New Jersey divorce lawyer Diana Bishara, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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7 comments on “Spouse’s Current Salary Versus Potential Income

    This has gotten even worse with the new “law” that has gone into effect at the start of 2015. The state doesn’t even look at what the spouse should or could be making. In a temporary situation the court gives the spouse and exorbitant amount of money because they don’t want to work. They also don’t consider any of the debt that is in play. Usually the more responsible spouse gets stuck with all the dept because a CC company won’t give a non working person credit. There are cases already where the husband is paying so much to the wife, because the wife refused to work, that he can’t even afford a place to live, feed him self or even feed the kids when they are in his care. The court use a “simple” formula when coming up with maintenance. 30% of the higher income minus 20% of the lower income. And well they don’t care if the one that has to pay is already paying ALL the debt. The court has no care if someone is living in a carboard box on the street. And child support. HA just because it’s called that doesn’t mean it’s being used for that. It’s all free money in their eyes.

    All too often men look at this money ….
    This is in regards to the post “written by a perspective, August 22, 2014”. You said “All too often, men look a this money as a gift to the mother and yet rarely (although there are some instances) do they fight to take on the all nighters with a sick child, the trade off of a social life for soccer practices/games, fighting with the child to get your child to do their homework and clean up behind themselves, being a sounding board for the hurt felt by your child without any means to fix it, etc.” Sounds EXTREMELY sexist and so general. I am about to take my ex back to court. I pay child support, $4k+/yr in daycare, & 98% of his clothing, sports equipment, soccer registrations, school lunch. Technically we are 50/50, but more and more SHE is the one who is putting her new relationship (founded on sharing a drink at a bar) above our son. I take him to school every morning, I take him to/from soccer, I’m more likely the shoulder to cry on for him, I’m the one who is fully invested in 100% of his life. I will drop any plans and adjust my work schedule just to have more time with him when she wants to go do something social. My younger brother was equally the better parent than his ex as well. So please, stop generalizing men as the “lesser parent” in divorces.

    dad hurting the same but kids hurt the worst
    She took advantage of the situation us KIDS as her crutch.support is for our children but i think in many ways it should be monitered some way really love is stronger y han any dollor figure.dont loose hope your kids are from u both and thats what is beautiful.i feel your pain but your children shouldnt i wish it could be differant but what can all of us do.stand tall love the kids and remember if it breaks the bank love to them children is priceless and will always be rememberd more than any dollor amount.mabee u could ask for more time with them i dont know but i pray for u.

    Yes its support for the kids but as you see, he had the kids for 5 years. She took the kids. The judge gave it on her request. The kids became a source of income for her. After five years of the kids staying 5 days a week with him he became every other weekend dad.

    Regarding Dadsdivorce
    From the information you provided, the court made you pay $1000 per child in child support. The tone of your letter implies you are frustrated with paying “HER” that money. In reality, the money was “CHILD SUPPORT”. Since she did not have income, whether because she is irresponsible or not, the children have expenses and you have the means. I did not hear you say you tried and were denied primary custody of your son so that he could live in a better home and you could have more time with him.

    Parents have to stop considering “CHILD SUPPORT” as a win fall for the other parent. All too often, men look a this money as a gift to the mother and yet rarely (although there are some instances) do they fight to take on the all nighters with a sick child, the trade off of a social life for soccer practices/games, fighting with the child to get your child to do their homework and clean up behind themselves, being a sounding board for the hurt felt by your child without any means to fix it, etc. While these things don’t come with a receipt showing the dollar amount, they cost a price.

    So, consider fixing the problem by having the children live with you primarily. Then you won’t have to pay “CHILD SUPPORT” and you can get a real picture of how much it REALLY costs to raise a child.

    concerned citizen
    I have seen this case far to many times. I would like to no the percentage of divorce filed by women versus men in this country, before same sex marriage files the statistics. The laws have swung to far back to the women in this country. Just like any system with rules there will be those who abuse that system to their advantage. I would like to start an organization similar to M.A.D.D. in this country to fight for more equality for men going through divorce in this country. Women want equality until it comes to child custody and spousal support.

    How about after 5 YEARS?
    My ex took me back to court for child support. When we got divorced 5 years ago I made less than $25,000 per year and had 51% visitation. My ex made about $35,000. I never received any support from her. She didn’t even pay for before school child care. I had the both kids Monday-Friday (school and work time) and never on weekends or most holidays. During the 5 years I went to college and worked up to an Engineer making over $60,000 per year and she lost her job 2 years ago and chose not to work or go to school (welfare). She took me to court in December and finally in April got her wish. I now pay her $1000 per month in child support and see my kids every other weekend.
    I recently purchased a new home in a great neighborhood. My son now shares a bedroom in HUD apartments with his mom. He’s 11 years old! In my case, we didn’t have a chance. My attorney never even received the final judgment. It went from her attorney to the judge with all of her wishes granted. The judge signed it. He order not only the child support but I had to pay her attorney fees because she “didn’t have the means to do so”. Please fix this system!

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