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When one spouse is not a W2 employee there is the fear of an inability to capture that spouse’s actual income. While it is true, without records and reliable tax returns figuring out a person’s true income can be challenging, there are things you can do to approximate income for support purposes.

First, you are your own best asset in this situation. You know approximately how much your mortgage/rent and carrying costs amount to every month. You know what type of cars you drive. You know how many times a week you go out to dinner and where those dinners take place. You know your family’s vacations, gifts, and other expenses you pay for on a monthly and or yearly basis. Sit down and take your time. Your attorney will have you fill out a net worth statement. This is where you will list out all your expenses as well as all of your assets. This will establish your standard of living which will determine income.

Once you create this list of things, you will have an idea of how much money is spent on a monthly or yearly basis. Assuming you’re not in a heap of credit card debt or behind on your bills, you will be able to approximate how much your spouse must be earning to at the very least cover these bills. This lifestyle analysis will assist the court to impute income if necessary to the spouse who is not a W2 employee. Do not worry, the courts are not bound to a spouse who claims they hardly make a living yet live in a five-bedroom house in an affluent area. If there is a business involved, the courts can have a forensic expert evaluate the business and determine not only how much a company is worth, but also its cash flow.

If you are the non W2 employee, take caution in not cooperating. You are putting your financial future in the court’s hands. They may impute income to you, which is far greater than you actually make, and will cause serious financial problems because you can be saddled with a support obligation which you truly cannot afford. Remember, the courts are not bound to your version of your income, especially if they find your version suspect.

Imputing income is not an exact science. You do not want to spend months—and attorney hours—figuring out what an approximate income is for the off the books spouse. This will cost you time and money and you will be putting your financial future in the hands of a stranger. Speak to your spouse and attempt to work this out. If you cannot the attorney and courts will do it for you.

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