301 865-1101

Voluntary Impoverishment and the calculation of child support

Does the income of a spouse count in the calculation of child support?  Is it voluntary impoverishment?

In Frederick County Child support and custody court, I observe people subjected to dirty tricks of all kinds.  I chronical these tales for people to be informed and advised of these dirty tricks.  Help describe how to spot them and how to defend against them.  Forewarned is forearmed.  This is not intended to be a guide to exercising such tricks on others.

One such dirty trick is “voluntary impoverishment.”

Voluntary impoverishment is artificially reducing one’s income to reduce or avoid child support and/or alimony obligations.

A party is “voluntarily impoverished” when the party has made a free and conscious choice, not compelled by factors beyond his or her control, to render himself or herself without adequate resources.

The classic tale is a one of a perennially unemployed or underemployed obligors.  Everytime they come to court they have lost a job, been laid off, don’t get 40 hours per week….etc.

Yet the most sure and unforgiving way to artificially increase or decrease a parent’s child support obligation is not a game, or a sham but a simple fact of life and it’s not voluntary impoverishment.  It’s the advice of every Pennsylvania Dutch mother: “Auch Heiraten.”  In English: “Marry Well.”

You see, a new spouse’s income does not count in computing a parent’s child support to another parent AKA the “ex.”  Soooo, if a man with a low  income re-marries a woman with a very high income, his child support to the ex is still low because it is only based upon his income.

Yet if a woman with a high income marries a new husband  with a low income she will still get minimal child support because it is based upon her income.  Ignore the fact that she is still supporting the child(ren) as well as her new underemployed, ruggedly handsome “himbo.”

Similarly if a woman with a low income is remarried to a wealthy husband she still gets child support based upon her low income.  Even if she drives the kids to school in a Rolls Royce and the dad takes a bus to work.  That’s that.

Tim Conlon, Esquire for The Custody Place

301 865-1101

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