A divorced parent with a child support obligation can unexpectedly land on financial hard times, often due to losing employment or a reduction in hours. Despite their best efforts to find gainful employment to support their kids, they may not have the skills or education to find a job or earn as much as they would like.
However, there are a few unmotivated parents – sometimes called deadbeats – that do not support their children financially, voluntarily remaining under employed or unemployed. It may be in retaliation against an ex spouse, or that it is disheartening when a big chunk of their earnings go to support, but in the eyes of the law, they have an obligation to financially support their children to the best of their abilities.
Voluntarily Under Employed or Unemployed
If a court determines that a parent is voluntarily earning less to support their children, the court can impute or assign additional income to that parent thereby increasing the child support obligation. Courts can impute income if a parent is voluntarily or involuntarily unemployed or working less than full time or earning less than what they have earned historically or less than their qualifications seem to merit.
The courts will start by looking at past earnings, education and skills, and local employment opportunities available. A court will also consider a payer’s current physical and mental health status and whether they have child care responsibilities or periods of physical placement that sometimes get in the way of a job.
While many who pay child support may feel that it is impossible for the court to predict the job market, and that it is unfair to assume that a parent can earn more, the court is able to take into account other factors that help reveal the bigger picture. Are there other financial resources the parent is enjoying? What is their standard of living? What are their needs? These are all questions the court may ask to determine if the parent is in better financial circumstances than their low paying job suggests. If there is any reason to believe that the parent could and should be earning more, the court will act on behalf of the child’s best interest by imputing income.
Ex-Spouse Purposely Under Employed or Unemployed to Avoid Paying Child Support?
Contact Our Experienced Wisconsin Child Support Attorneys for Help
If you are concerned that your ex-spouse is voluntarily under employed or unemployed or otherwise not living up to their earning potential, and putting the children at a financial disadvantage, it is important to discuss your concerns with an experienced Wisconsin child support enforcement attorney. Our family law attorneys will evaluate every factor in the child support obligation. For personalized attention call us at 414-210-3135 or contact us online.