Can A Parent Avoid Child Support By Not Working?
In a perfect world, every divorced parent would happily and consistently pay their share of child support every month. Unfortunately, the world is a very imperfect place and there are a lot of unscrupulous ex-spouses that will do anything to avoid making payments. But can a parent avoid paying child support by deliberately not working?
Child Support And Deliberate Unemployment
Sometimes, a parent will try to avoid paying child support by deliberately becoming unemployed or underemployed. Needless to say, courts do not like discovering that a parent is trying to inconvenience or harm an ex-spouse by withholding money meant for their children.
When the court is made aware that such behavior is taking place, a judge has the power to impute income to the unemployed parent. This means the court will consider the earning ability of the unemployed parent and use the projected amount that parent could be earning to calculate child support.
To assign income that the parent is not actually earning, the court will need to find that the unemployed parent has the ability and opportunity to work. In other words, before imputing income, the court will need proof that there are available jobs for which the parent is qualified.
Enforcing Child Support Payments
Unfortunately, even with a court order, some parents still refuse to find employment and begin paying child support.
In those cases, there are a range of options for enforcing child support. The short version is that if a delinquent parent does not pay, they risk everything from fines up to jail time.
Getting Legal Help
In most cases where one parent is deliberately trying to avoid paying child support, either by being unemployed, underemployed, or otherwise–it’s important to have a competent family law attorney to help guide the responsible parent through the process of enforcing their court order.
Sometimes just the threat of legal action from a lawyer is enough to get a delinquent parent back on track and making payments. Other times, real legal action needs to be taken and a good lawyer will walk their clients through each step of the process.
If you suspect your former spouse of being deliberately unemployed or underemployed in order to avoid paying child support, please contact us and we’ll evaluate your case to see if there’s anything we can do to help.
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