It could. If the income plummets only the year before the divorce, we would obviously look at that to determine why it plummeted, to see if there was some divorce planning being utilized on the part of that spouse. If we assume, for argument sake, that the loss or the drop in income was not intentional, we would have to look to see whether or not we believe that that is an anomaly or whether that trend will continue.
There are certainly cases in New Jersey that came to the proposition that income can be averaged over a three- to five-year period of time for individuals whose income is not even or consistent on a year-to-year basis. But it would really depend on the facts of each particular case. The question you ask is, whether or not that one year’s drop would be enough to dramatically impact the numbers used for support.
Sonya K. Zeigler is a partner at Stolfe Zeigler, a boutique family law firm that obtains favorable outcomes for high-net-worth, complex, and litigious cases.