Child Support: Intentional unemployment and underemployment – A parent cannot avoid the obligation to pay child support after getting divorced. These are court-ordered payments, so if a judge says you have to pay, you must pay what they tell you to pay or make arrangements to have those payments adjusted to meet your situation.
This is especially true for parents who are intentionally unemployed or underemployed. Many times, a parent subject to child support is qualified to be employed but chooses not to work or accepts a job making less money than before.
This is what’s called intentional unemployment or underemployment, and examples include:
- Quitting a job
- Being laid off or fired and not seeking a new job
- Working part-time when full-time options are available
- Quitting a job and going into a different career making less money than before
The first thought many people have when they hear this is the obligated parent is intentionally not working to avoid having to make child-support payments. But that’s not always the case. For example, a person may be intentionally unemployed because they are a veteran who receives disability benefits. Another scenario could involve a parent who wants to return to full-time work but must take fewer hours or choose a different career field due to disabilities or other factors.
Earnings potential vs. Actual earnings
Someone who is intentionally unemployed or underemployed cannot avoid child-support obligations based on a change in their employment history. In these situations, a judge can base a decision on earnings potential or actual earnings.
- See what the parent was historically making and calculate payments based on that salary
- Analyze the availability of current job opportunities in the parent’s career field to gauge a standard salary and benefits structure, and base child-support calculations off those figures
- Review the parent’s current job and salary and base child-support payments off actual earnings
- Analyze other factors, including parent’s age, job history, education, skills, health, etc.
A court typically makes a child-support determination and payment schedule on a case-by-case basis. If there are legitimate circumstances that have caused the obligated parent to either be intentionally unemployed or underemployed, the payments can be adjusted to take into consideration the parent’s current earnings.
Nelson Law Group, PC has represented people in all forms of family law cases for over 20 years. Our friendly staff is here to help you in any way we can while taking the guesswork out of many complex situations. Give us a call today! For more information about Brett A Nelson click here.