Limited possibilities in many areas of your life is an inevitable consequence of divorce. Your options may broaden in the future as you recover financially and emotionally. You may even go back to school to get a degree or obtain higher certification in your chosen field. However, what you ultimately choose to do will be impacted by your parenting duties. For example, a parent may be working a lucrative corporate job during the marriage. She takes on a less demanding job later on so that she can devote more time to her children. When she and her husband file for divorce, it is agreed that she will have primary custody of the children.
They disagree, however, on what the husband should pay in alimony and child support. The wife is clearly well educated with the potential to earn a six figure income. She did work a lower paying job for some years in order to take care of the kids. Still, she has the education and skills to find a better paying job. Thus, alimony and child support should be based on her former salary, right? Well, it's not that simple depending on nature of one's parental responsibilities. The question of employability after divorce was the primary issue in the 2015 case of Elrom v. Elrom. The wife in this case gave up a six figure salary as a New York City attorney after having children. She worked as an associate attorney for about half her prior salary at the time of the divorce. Her husband, a software consultant, argued that alimony and child support should be based on her earning potential, estimated to be between $108,740 and $177,850 per year by an employability expert.
The wife opposed this calculation based on her current parental obligations. Because of the needs of her children, it was not possible for her to return to a job similar to the one she held in New York City. Hence, her support award should be based on the imputed income of $80,640 – her current full time salary. The Appellate Division affirmed the trial court's ruling in favor of the wife. First, they agreed with her assessment about her employability based on her parenting duties. Second, the husband failed to provide compelling evidence to support his claims, nor evidence that refuted his wife's claims. For example, the wife presented evidence from a forensic accountant to show that he husband did not fully disclose his assets during discovery. The husband did not rebutt these claims with his own accounting expert. As for his claims about his wife's employability, the court questioned the legitimacy of the expert's testimony. For one thing, he never factored in the wife's parenting duties, nor did he factor in all the husband's income sources. As you can see, “income” has many different meanings within the context of divorce. For more information on imputation of income for alimony and child support, please speak with the attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C.