Is Your Spouse Voluntarily Underemployed?

Voluntary underemployment is a big issue in some divorces. Occasionally, one party to the divorce may try to lower their child support obligation by reducing their income. This is because in most cases the divorce court presumes the child support guidelines are proper. If you suspect your spouse has reduced their income intentionally to reduce child support or other court ordered payments you may be dealing with a case of voluntary underemployment.

Proving voluntary underemployment is important because it allows the family court to deviate from the child support guidelines. If your Woodlands Divorce Attorney can not prove your case, then the family court will apply the normal child support guidelines to the current income. However, a finding of voluntary underemployment allows the court to set child support at the “earning potential” rather than the actual earnings of the party responsible for child support.

There are two steps in a voluntary underemployment claim:

  1. To begin the voluntary underemployment analysis, the family court contemplates the proof of current wages for the party responsible for child support.
  2. Once the obligor’s wages are established, the burden shifts to the person claiming the other side is voluntarily underemployed to demonstrate the obligor’s intent to decrease income for the purpose of reducing child support payments. Your divorce lawyer will need evidence of intent, such as the circumstances of obligor’s education, economic adversities, business reversals, business background, and earning potential, to give rise to an inference of voluntary underemployment. These factors are not exhaustive.
    It is your responsibility to prove voluntary underemployment with sufficient evidence. If you do not have enough evidence, then all your spouse has to do to defeat the claim is establish his current income. Speak with a The Woodlands Divorce Lawyer today if you need help with your divorce or child support case.

The Woodlands Divorce Resource is here to help you with your divorce, child custody, or other family law issue in Montgomery County or Harris County. Many of our visitors come from the areas of Conroe, Oak Ridge North, Cut and Shoot, and other communities in the Montgomery County area or Houston and North Harris County. If you need legal assistance with your family law issue speak with a Conroe Divorce Lawyer today.

  • Amy says:

    My ex for the last 10 years has made 10K a month. He was paying $338.00 in child support, until I found out he was lying about his income. I then asked him to help split the cost of my son’s driving lessons and he had a fit. So I filed for a modification, so I never had to go through that ugliness again. The court found he made $10,235.19 a month and they ordered him to pay $1267.00. He asked for a HARDSHIP HEARING AND WAS DENIED! Then came the emails to my son asking for him to come live with him for six months out of the year (so he didn’t have to pay child support) mind you he ONLY asked to see him 3 times a year and we live 5 hours away and the flight costs $100.00. When I put my foot down and said, lets try regular visition first before he comes and lives there, he stopped calling my son and hasn’t asked to see him the day he was court ordered to increase child support. After 4 months of not receiving the correct amount I finally called his place of employment only to find out his income went from $10,235.19 to $2142.00, yet he olds the same position? I believe he is setting the stage for voluntary underemployment. What can i do to protect my son? This was the money I was using for his college, since the ex doesn’t have to pay anything toward that in the State of Texas!

    • Rich Shea says:

      Amy raised a few issues that are too complex to discuss publicly on this site. I responded to her comment directly.

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