Q: What if the person who is responsible for child support chooses to go part-time or intentionally under-employs himself or herself to minimize their child support obligations?
Let’s say, hypothetically, that a software engineer chooses to quit his or her high-paying job to be an Uber driver instead. That is not going to work if it’s purely a matter of choice to quit their high-paying job and the courts are going to require that parent to support the children to the level of his or her earning ability, whether they are actually earning it or not.
That’s, of course, an easy thing to say, and a lot of times court hearings focus on whether somebody can earn to their ability for a legitimate reason. But the court is not going to let someone just decide to give up an engineering career and drive for Uber to get their support cut by 80%. By law, paying child support is considered a parent’s absolute top obligation, even above taxes. So, you’re simply not going to get away with purposely reducing your income.
Before you decide to go into court over child support issues, you first want to find out as best you can what the results are likely to be. For child support, if it’s a computer program, judges have all used the same approach, so it’s very predictable.
Often, unfortunately, a parent may spend several thousand dollars to get a decrease in his or her child support obligation only to find out that there really is no decrease to be had. So, it’s important to calculate ahead of time to see whether it’s worthwhile. If you’re only going to get a small decrease, then spending a lot of money to accomplish that may not be worth it to you.
Because the child support calculation is so straightforward and generally so simple, most people can do it on their own once they talk to an experienced child support attorney. Because the facts and circumstances of every situation are unique, it’s imperative to talk to an attorney to find out what your results are going to be in advance.