Everyone knows that being involved in any legal process, even Small Claims Court, involves emotion to some degree. Divorce is likely the most emotional of all legal proceedings. After all, you may be dealing with your children – where they are going to live, what is the visitation plan, how much support is going to be paid or received. Is the support going to be enough for them? What about spousal support and debts that have to be divided? And what happens to the family home? What if there has been domestic violence perpetrated against one spouse?
One area where emotions need to be in check is in child support and spousal support. This is especially true in today’s economic troubles, wherein one party may lose a job or may not be working. What typically happens is the paying spouse wants income imputed to the other spouse who may have been laid off or has not worked in some time so that the support they are paying is not so high. The problem is that the paying spouse lets their emotions control the case. They simply try to tell the judge the non-working spouse can find a job or that they have worked for “Such & Such Company” in the past making $XXX amount of money per month, and, therefore, they should have imputed that income.
In a court of law, cases are decided on whether or not the burden of proof has been met. This is true for family law cases, as well. If a spouse is seeking to impute income to the unemployed/underemployed other spouse, a burden of proof needs to be met. In a recent case, Marriage of Bardzik, the court indicated that father presented no evidence of mother’s vocational abilities or opportunities to earn income and merely pointing to her previous income is not sufficient to meet his burden of proof and, thus, denied his request that she be imputed income.
If you have a family law issue, make sure you leave your emotions out of the case and are clear regarding what you need to prove, then go out and get the evidence to support your position.