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Maryland Child Support and the Unemployed Parent

Voluntary Impoverishment

If child support is an issue in your Maryland case and your child’s other parent is not working, or is not working enough, then you may be able to ask the Court to treat that parent as if they were working full time.  A parent who is underemployed or unemployed is referred to as “voluntarily impoverished.”  This legal theory is important when calculating both child support and alimony.  This means that the parent has left themselves without financial resources (such as income) to support themselves or their child.  If the Court finds that a parent has voluntarily impoverished himself or herself, then child support may be calculated based on a determination of that parent’s potential income, meaning what they could make if they were working full time. 

You may recall that two of the biggest considerations that the Court looks at when determining child support is:

          1) the gross income of both parents; and

          2) the number of overnights the child spends with each parent. 

If your child’s other parent is not working, or is not working enough, then that could drastically impact the amount of child support that you either must pay or that is owed to you.  

Voluntary Impoverishment Does Not Apply to All Parents

There is one exception:  A parent who is caring for a child under the age of 2 years old is not expected to be employed full time, so long as the child under 2 is the child of both parents.  The Court will not tell that parent to go to work, since that parent is supposedly taking care of the child full time, instead of working. 

 Voluntarily Impoverishment Factors Considered by the Court

There are a number of factors that the Maryland Court will consider when determining whether a parent is voluntarily impoverished:

  1. His or her current physical condition;
  2. His or her respective level of education;
  3. The timing of any change in employment or other financial circumstances relative to the divorce proceedings;
  4. The relationship between the parties prior to the initiation of divorce proceedings;
  5. His or her efforts to find and retain employment;
  6. His or her efforts to secure retraining if that is needed;
  7. Whether he or she has ever withheld support;
  8. His or her past work history;
  9. The area in which the parties live and the status of the job market there; and
  10. Any other considerations that are presented by either party

Voluntary impoverishment can be difficult to prove in Court in Maryland.  Rockville, Maryland divorce attorney Dana Whitten represents clients throughout Maryland. Get more answers here to your frequently asked questions about Maryland CustodyContact the Law Offices of Dana K. Whitten for a consultation about your specific concerns.

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