9.7Susan M. Hais

If you are going through a divorce and have children, both child custody and child support can be one of the most difficult issues you will face. It becomes even more difficult if you were awarded custody and your ex-spouse is unemployed. Does this mean the issue of child support just simply doesn’t exist because they don’t have income? Thankfully, no. Even if your ex-spouse is unemployed, this doesn’t automatically excuse them from child support.

Throughout the years, there have been several underhanded ways a non-custodial parent has tried to get out of paying or not paying as much in child support. One of those ways includes quitting or intentionally getting fired from employment. This may seem silly, but it happens. However, to combat this, courts will not always go by the actual income of an unemployed parent, but rather the imputed income.

Imputed income basically has them pay an amount in child support in what they could earn instead of what they actually earn. For honestly unemployed non-custodial parents, this imputed income is usually calculated from what you would make at minimum wage as it is generally agreed that anyone could get a job flipping burgers or doing other minimum wage work. However, there are other aspects in this equation as well, including number of children.

However, if the non-custodial parent is deemed to be unemployed by choice or under employed by choice, their imputed income would be raised to what they were making at their previous position if the courts decide that they are trying to defraud the system.

What this means for the custodial parent is that they won’t be out child support if their ex-spouse is underemployed or unemployed. If the courts deem child support is necessary, they may be given time to find a job before payments start, but they will still need to make the payments.

For more information on child support, divorce, and other family law issues, contact us today.