Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Mother and Imputed Income: Two-Time Losers

The uniqueness of the mother/child bond USED to be a given across every single species, including the human one (with the exception, as we all know today, of the Disney's clown fish species); however, sadly enough, it appears that this is no longer the case. We now live in a more modern age that does not recognize mother as being anything particularly special vis-à-vis children anymore. Thus we must be prepared to deal with a world which considers us more of a throw-back to a time before college-educated social engineers decided that anybody BUT mother was probably better equipped to raise her children.

That being said every mother, good, bad or indifferent must be prepared for the looming modern-day phenomenon known as ‘losing custody’ and needs to be prepared for eventually being required to pay child support off what is known as ‘imputed income’.

The ‘original intent’ behind imputed income was to stop a non-custodial parent (usually a father, since MEN generally STILL have higher incomes and more assets then women) from hiding income and assets in order to avoid paying guideline child support. It was intended to be used to go after REAL income and assets, NOT imaginary income and assets, or worse yet, income that NEVER existed and probably NEVER will except in the mind of a government statistician.

Now, as most of us already know from the research, women make less then men generally not because of discrimination in the job market (although that might play some lesser role for women in certain fields) but because women take time off from educational/career advancement in order to make an ‘investment’ in building their family. That initial investment in preparing for pregnancy and eventually bearing of children, although benefitting her (and MANY others, by the way), nevertheless leaves her ‘poorer’ in actual tangible assets and thus more vulnerable in the future.

This isn’t immediately apparent however to most women. It’s doesn’t become so until we are standing in front of a Judge (years after the irreversible decisions have been made) and being informed that not only are we losing custody of our children, but we will now be expected to pay the other parent a sizable chunk of whatever income and/or assets we might have accumulated (or not) as well. Of course, for most mothers that means a quick double-take as it slowly begins to dawn on us that perhaps we were too rash in making our original life decisions as we are now faced with a child support liability that can range anywhere from about $50,000 to $250,000 depending upon the ages of our children and the amount of income a Judge decides we SHOULD be making, taking into account our educational level, potential professions that education MIGHT enable us to be employed in and what other people in that field are making in our state.

Additionally NOT being able to pay the imputed child support order (no matter how unrealistic it is) could mean a jail sentence OR worse case scenario, NEVER being able to exercise your court-ordered visitation (which in laymen’s terms means never being able to see your children).

Thus a mother out of the workplace for years, years in which she lost opportunities which are simply not available right now, is actually penalized twice. First, mother lost out on the educational and other opportunities available to her when she chose to invest in building up her family as opposed to her own career; secondly, she is now getting less of her current income (as little as it may be) as mother is further penalized by being forced to pay child support on imputed income based upon a salary which she probably never made; or MIGHT have made ten years or so ago and frankly, might NEVER make again…

For let’s face it the ‘shelf life’ of women particularly in the workplace is much shorter than that of men and could be shortened considerably more due to issues of age, physical appearance, weight, health, etc., To wrap up here, mothers forced to pay child support off imputed income, which by the way MOST people paying child support off imputed income are mothers, (talk about not adhering to the ‘original intent of the framers’) anyway most of these mothers would fall into the category that I label as that of the ‘two-time losers’ which ask any law enforcement official what that means and you’ll find out: It ain’t good…