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How underemployment may affect child support obligations

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2020 | Child Custody & Support

Sometimes, finding gainful employment is challenging. Even if a person has a decent combination of education, skills and experience, he or she may spend months looking for a job. Eventually, the position the individual accepts may offer either part-time employment or comparatively low wages. This fact, of course, may make it exceedingly difficult for the person to make child support payments. 

While an unsteady economy or bad jobs market may complicate anyone’s employment search, some individuals prefer to work in low-wage jobs or not work altogether. If your children’s other parent falls into this category, you are apt to experience some child support frustration. As such, you should understand how underemployment and voluntary unemployment may affect your ex-spouse’s child support obligations. 

Reasons for underemployment or unemployment 

The Badger State has a remarkably low unemployment rate of just 3.3%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accordingly, many individuals who want a job in Wisconsin have one. Nonetheless, not every employment opportunity is a good fit for every employee. Similarly, not every job pays a living wage. While some individuals experience underemployment or unemployment for legitimate reasons, others have clear motivation. For example, your former partner may be trying to harm you financially. Alternatively, he or she may think the support obligation is unfair or unreasonable. 

Imputation of income 

Judges have a variety of ways to determine if a person’s underemployment or unemployment is voluntary or involuntary. If the individual’s circumstances are of his or her own making, a judge may impute additional income. In doing so, the judge may consider the person’s work history, past income, education and skills. The judge is also apt to weigh the labor market and community wage data. Furthermore, if an individual argues that he or she cannot make support payments, the judge may look at how the person generally spends money. 

Raising kids can be almost unbelievably expensive. Fortunately, you likely do not have to foot the bill for everything your children need. If your former husband or wife is deliberately trying to skirt support obligations, you may be able to convince a judge to intervene.