A: The old saying that nothing is certain in life except death and taxes should be changed to add child support as one of life’s certainties. Simply put, the courts want people to support their children. So even if a father like the misguided guy in the attached video quits his job or intentionally gets fired, he will still be charged the same amount of support.
The court must first determine whether that parent willfully failed to obtain or maintain employment; if the answer is “yes,” then the court will look to the party’s earning historic earnings in order to set an artificial income level. But, If the father’s income was involuntarily reduced, through no fault of the father, such as in cases of layoffs, illness, or disability, courts would most likely not set an artificially high income level. A parent who voluntarily works fewer hours, is fired for cause, or switches to a lower-paying job, absent a valid reason, will be assessed child support based on his previous full-time income. Thus, a parent who quits his job to avoid paying child support will not be able to lawfully do so. This is an area which finds us in support court on a regular basis.
Earning capacity is the amount the party would be expected to earn at a full-time job in his or her particular line of work. So, for example, a neurosurgeon would presumably have a higher earning capacity than a preschool teacher. In making this determination, a court would look to the parent’s age, level of education and training, work history, earnings history, the current state of the local job market in the particular field at issue, and any childcare responsibilities. If the party in question has not worked outside the home for a significant amount of time due to caring for the parties’ children, the court will take into consideration the effect of the gap in work history on that party’s earning capacity.
An unemployed parent will have an income imputed to him if he fails to make diligent efforts to obtain another job within a reasonable time period. Similarly, if one parent decides to quit his job and go back to school to further his job prospects, the court will continue to assess his child support obligations based off of his previous income. Even being on active duty in the armed forces does not suspend a child support obligation.
Imputed income can be a complicated issue no matter what side of the argument one is on. For more information, please contact me at WE CARE LEGAL SERVICES, where our consultations are always free. Okay, add that to the list of life’s certainties. WE CARE LEGAL SERVICES 1 855 LAW FAMILY
Jan Grossman, Esq.
Nicole Levitt, Esq.