My Spouse Is Trying to Avoid Paying Child Support
A parent’s financial obligation to support his or her children is something that the Family Courts in Massachusetts take extremely seriously.
The parent who the child is living with is called the custodial parent and the other parent is called the non-custodial parent. It will be important for you to become familiar with these terms as you continue to go through the divorce process. Additionally, when the parents and their lawyers are working out a marital separation agreement or preparing for a divorce hearing, the non-custodial parent who will be responsible for paying child support may try to beat a support order by purposely lowering his or her income.
Our office has come across this more than once and we tell all of our clients that the Massachusetts courts are very familiar with this gambit and have specific rules and procedures, such as the imputation of income, to address this situation.
Moreover, in most cases, determining an order for Massachusetts Child Support and running it through the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines is fairly straightforward. However, if the noncustodial parent has lost employment or has a new job that pays considerably less than prior employment, he or she may ask the court to order a lower amount of child support.
The court will not automatically assume that a reduction in earnings is a deliberate act to avoid paying child support. Therefore it’s up to the custodial parent to prove that the noncustodial parent is trying to avoid the full effect of the child support. Therefore, if your spouse is capable of earning a high salary and was previously earning a higher salary and decides to take a part-time job making half the money they use to and explains that they are not spending more time volunteering or traveling, the court will not accept that behavior and will order them to pay the correct amount of child support.
However, if the noncustodial parent’s loss of employment or income was beyond his or her control, the law allows for a reduction of child support and will give the non-custodial parent the opportunity to find better employment. However, if the custodial parent effectively shows the judge that the non-custodial parent has voluntarily put himself/herself in this position, the judge may “impute income” to the non-custodial parent. When a judge imputes income, the noncustodial parent’s income is set at what he or she should be earning, not what he or she is actually earning.
When a divorcing couple has minor children, the courts primary goal is to always put the best interest of the child first and they will not punish children because one of their parents tries to skirt the system.
If you believe you Spouse or Ex- Spouse may be tryig to beat a child support order by voluntarily reducing his/her pay, please contact our office today for a free evaluation.