What happens when my spouse purposely quits his/her high paying job in order to avoid paying child support or spousal support?
When a court is calculating alimony or child support, one of the factors that goes into determining a spouse’s ability to pay is their current income. In an effort to lower their income, one may think quitting their high-paying job could lessen the amount ordered. This misconception is far from true. The key word in determining amounts of support is a spouse’s “ability” to pay. This means that courts have the power to impute income. For example, if a spouse had a high-paying job and quits, the court will see that this spouse has the ability to earn much more than their current income. The judge will use this imputed income to base support calculations on – rather than their actual current employment status.
On the other hand, this rule generally applies to the spouse receiving support as well. In order to determine an amount of support needed to maintain their pre-divorce lifestyle, the court will determine the receiving spouses ability to earn an income as well (i.e. level of education, age, health, work experience, etc.). Therefore, even the lower-income spouse would not be wise in quitting their job simply to earn more in support.
If support has already been ordered, a spouse may think that they can avoid paying by quitting their job. Again, this is not the case. Once a court orders child support or spousal support, both parties are obligated to honor that order until it expires, or if a modification is approved. Unemployment does not relieve a spouse from court ordered support payments. Click here for more information on what happens when a parent fails to pay child support.
Many other factors exist is determining support amounts, and courts do look at each couple or family’s specific circumstances when making decisions. Our experienced family law attorneys can help guide you through your specific situation. To set up a consultation contact us at (702) 998-1188 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on child support, alimony or spousal support, or other facets of divorce, check out our Family Law TV playlist on youtube.