How Child Support Is Determined When a Parent Has No Income

Posted on April 10, 2023 02:41pm
How Child Support Is Determined When a Parent Has No Income

If you don't have a source of income and cannot afford child support, you will still be required to make a monthly child support payment. If a parent does not have a source of income, the court may calculate income based on prior work history and/or the parent’s potential earning capacity.

For example, if a parent is unemployed or underemployed, the court may look at the parent’s previous employment history to determine how much they are capable of earning again in the future. Essentially, your child support obligation will be partially based on your ability and opportunity to find similar work, whether inside or outside of your chosen profession.

What if a Parent Tries to Avoid Paying Support?

In some cases, a parent may purposefully choose unemployment in order to attempt to dodge a child support obligation. The courts do not take kindly to this behavior, and will order child support based on imputed income. The court’s decision will, above all, consider the child’s best interests and will order whatever support is necessary to meet the child’s needs.

What if you can’t afford child support?

So what happens if you cannot afford your child support payments? Choosing not to make them, or informally arranging a modification with your spouse allowing you to pay what you can, are both incorrect courses of action.

Failing to make timely payments means that you will accrue an arrearage, which will give your former spouse the right to file a contempt action to enforce child support. This will cost you even more money in court fees and litigation costs. Making an informal arrangement means you are still not fulfilling your legal child support obligations; only a court-approved child support modification can do that.

If you absolutely cannot afford your payments, you should speak with your attorney to learn your options.

Contact Our Attorneys for Guidance

Laws surrounding child support can be complex, which is why it is essential to retain knowledgeable legal counsel. We invite you to get in touch with a Washington divorce lawyer to learn more about your child support obligation and/or a potential modification, or your rights as the recipient of child support. Visit our child support page for more information.
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