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I Think My Ex Quit a Job to Avoid Paying Child Support. What Do I Do?

I Think My Ex Quit a Job to Avoid Paying Child Support. What Do I Do?Getting a divorce is already a stressful event. There’s the separation of property, child custody, moving, and ensuring your spouse pays child support. But what if your ex-spouse claims they  can’t pay child support because they don’t have a job? What if you suspect they purposefully quit their job to avoid paying child support specifically?

You may feel like you are out of options, but there are legal actions available to ensure your child receives the support to which they are entitled and that the court has ordered. Your child support lawyer can help get to the bottom of what’s going on, fill out the necessary forms, and talk to the right people so that you and your children are not saddled with undue and unfair debt and financial hardship.

How is child support calculated for South Carolina parents?

In South Carolina, child support is determined by state Child Support Guidelines. The Department of Social Services also provides a child support calculator to help determine the responsibility of each parent in contributing to the care of the child. This calculator only provides an estimate, however, so if you want a more reliable and concrete figure, you should seek the help of a child support attorney. My offices have professionals who can give you a better idea of what to expect in your personal situation.

It’s important to note that if you and your former spouse can come to a mutual agreement about child support, the calculator and guidelines won’t be necessary. Our lawyers can help you and your spouse negotiate and finalize an agreement, then bring it before a judge for final approval.

Factors that determine child support payments include:

  • How many children you and your spouse have.
  • Each parent’s actual and current income.
  • How often each parent sees the child.
  • Cost of daycare or schooling.
  • The children’s health insurance premiums.

If the parents’ combined income is greater than $30,000 per month ($360,000), the court typically disregards the state guidelines and calculators and decides child support on a case-by-case basis. For those with lower incomes, child support payments can not be set lower than $100 per month.

How do I enforce a child support order?

If your spouse has been avoiding or underpaying on his or her child support, you may need to take legal action to enforce the order. Failure to pay a court order, like child support or alimony, is considered to be in contempt of court. If this happens, your attorney may consider filing a contempt action called “rule to show cause.”  Once the action is filed, this will force your ex-spouse to come into court and explain why he or she is not paying or underpaying on their child support. If a valid reason is not found, then your ex could suffer penalties including fines or jail time.

There are two actions you can take if your spouse is late or not paying on his or her child support:

  • Having the court seek out your spouse for payment, including payment of the mandatory service fee
  • Having their wages withheld by their employer

The court acts as a third party in both cases, and will make the payment to the parent receiving the payment.

How do I prove my ex is purposely unemployed?

If you are claiming that your spouse intentionally left their job so as not to make child support payments, then you need to have evidence of that for the court. For instance, if your spouse has left their job or does not have a job despite having sufficient years of education and work experience, and there seems to be no viable reason why they currently do not have a job (or a menial job with low pay), then the court may see that as evidence as willful underemployment or unemployment.

However, there are cases where a person has valid reasons to be out of work or underemployed. For example, your spouse may be under-educated or have little work experience, lost their job due to an injury, or have had to spend extra time and money taking care of an ailing relative. The court may view situations like these as understandable and fair reasons for unemployment. However, the court and only the court can make that decision.

According to the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines, “if the court finds that a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, it should calculate child support based on a determination of potential income which would otherwise ordinarily be available to the parent. If income is imputed to a parent to whom support is owed, the court may also impute reasonable day care expenses.”

The court awards child support after a divorce for a reason.  These payments are necessary for the well-being of your child or children. If the noncustodial parent refuses to pay or underpays their child support, it makes your life and the lives of your children that much more difficult. It’s not fair, and you have legal options. At Holland Law LLC, we have years of experience with divorce and child custody cases. We know what it takes to get you help. Call us today at 803-219-2630, or use our contact page. Our firm has offices in Fort Mill and Rock Hill, and we also serve clients in York, Chester, and Lancaster.