Imputing income for child support

When is it reasonable to impute income to a payor of child support? In Tillmanns v. Tillmanns, the mother sought an order against her ex when he was laid off from his job and unable to continue paying the agreed-upon amount of child support. Under the Child Support Guidelines, a court has the discretion to impute income to a payor if they are intentionally unemployed or underemployed, provided that the unemployment or underemployment is not reasonable in light of the educational needs of the payor. In other words, when a payor makes the decision to go back to school to retrain for a new career, this isn’t automatically going to result in an imputation of income for child support purposes.

In the Tillmanns case, the payor was a plant worker who was laid off from his job at a printing company. There were limited prospects for him in the printing field, so he decided to enrol in a plumber’s course at college and then start an apprenticeship . The apprenticeship paid significantly less than what his former plant job had paid.

The court determined that the payor had made a realistic assessment of his employment prospects and retraining made sense, even if it meant he was earning less money in the short term. His ex bore the onus of establishing that the payor’s underemployment was intentional and unreasonable in the circumstances, and she failed to do so. Although she adduced evidence in the form of articles from the internet about job prospects in the printing field, this evidence was held to be inadmissible without an opportunity to cross-examine the authors of the articles. She also presented numerous job postings that the payor could have applied for, but she failed to establish that the payor was actually qualified for these postings.

The judge lowered the payor’s child support payments to reflect the fact that his capacity to pay had changed