Berens v. Berens (North Carolina 2020)

No. COA19-306 (N.C. Ct. App. 2020)
January 2020

A court doesn’t abuse its discretion in imputing income to a parent as long as evidence supports the determination. The mother and the father filed for divorce. After several years, the trial court entered an order a final decree, which set support for three children. Both parents appealed the child support provisions. The mother argued the trial court erred in imputing income to her. She didn’t work and had been the children’s primary caregiver. She argued she would have to use her personal estate to make up the difference. The appellate court upheld the imputation of income. It found the mother had a college education and that the trial court imputed her at a reasonable amount. The court found little merit in mother’s argument that she was going to have to reduce her personal assets in that she would hardly be reduced to poverty level. The father argued that the court should have based the child support on two minor children, not three, as a child had graduated by the time of the appeal. The appellate court disagreed. It found the trial court set support based on the information from the time of trial when the child was still a minor. The trial court had no evidence concerning her imminent emancipation. The father needed to request a modification. The order was reversed and remanded on other grounds.