Imputed Income for Child and Spousal Support Based on Expenses

Posted on December 30th, 2013

Determining Child & Spousal Support by Attributing Income Based upon Family Expenses

In the recent unpublished case of In re Marriage of Farida, decided June 25, 2013, the California Court of Appeal held that it was not an abuse of the trial court’s broad discretion to calculate child and spousal support by attributing income to the obligor, based upon family expenses. Neither party had been forthcoming about the husband’s income from the liquor store he owned.

During the marriage, the husband had made enough money to buy the family a $500,000 home, buy himself and his wife luxury cars, enroll both the parties’ children in private school, invest in other business ventures with his brother, and remain without debt. Accordingly, the trial court found that the husband had a monthly income of $10,000.

The husband appealed the trial court’s attribution of $10,000 per month income. The appellate court reasoned that the trial court’s figure was amply supported by the evidence of the family’s lifestyle, and that the figure “was, if anything, somewhat conservative.”

Although this case is non-citable to a California court, as it is unpublished, it demonstrates a trial court’s broad discretion to calculate and order child and spousal support, even in cases where the obligor’s income is difficult to ascertain.