In this difficult economy, it is not unusual for at least one party in a divorce or child support matter to be unemployed or employed part-time. In these situations, it is important for the court to be alerted to potential income that a party could earn. In addition, if a person believes that his or her spouse could be earning more money or is trying to avoid a support obligation through unemployment, presenting the proper evidence to the court is key.

A court has the power to find that a person is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed for purposes of determining support and to “impute” or assign income to that person based on what the court thinks he or she could earn. In an unpublished case titled Ludgate v Ludgate, A11-1167, the appellate court remanded a Hennepin County district court case with instructions for the court to determine whether the husband was voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. The appellate court held that the district court could not impute income to a party until the court first found the party to be unemployed or underemployed.

Proving that a person is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed requires gathering the appropriate evidence. This evidence can be obtained through serving discovery (requests for information) on a party, cross-examination at the hearing, deposing (live questioning) of a party or even investigation by requesting information from third parties through subpoenas or other methods. A judge cannot make a determination without appropriate proof so it is essential that evidence is gathered and properly presented to the court to support a claim that a party is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.

Attorneys at Cooper Law, LLC often work with clients who have legal issues relating to income and we want to help. Cooper Law, LLC is unique because we offer sliding scale fees for people of modest means and our attorneys have years of experience. Call Cooper Law, LLC at (612) 568-4529 for a free telephone consultation today.