What Happens if a Parent Downplays Their Income?

It is not uncommon for parents responsible for paying child support to try to downplay their income. This typically happens in one of the following ways:

  • Paying parents voluntarily become unemployed by quitting a job and staying home, or sabotaging their work performance until their employers must fire them.
  • Paying parents voluntarily become underemployed by asking for fewer hours or accepting a position with fewer hours and/or less responsibility.
  • There is no evidence paying parents are receiving income from employment, a situation that commonly arises when they work for cash.

When any of these scenarios apply, Minnesota courts must consider the parent’s “potential income.” This is the amount the parent could or should have earned had he or she made a reasonable effort to secure gainful full-time employment.

How to determine one’s potential income

There are several different ways courts in Minnesota can determine “potential” income:

  • Estimating the potential earnings based on the parent’s employment history
  • Estimating the potential earnings based on unemployment benefits the parent earned
  • Calculating what the parent would earn if working full time at a rate of 150 percent the current minimum wage

It’s important to note that these scenarios are for voluntary unemployment or underemployment. A parent who gets laid off, for example, is not considered at fault for his or her sudden unemployment and could seek a temporary adjustment to child support payments.

For further guidance on how to hold a parent responsible for missed child support payments, speak with an experienced Minnesota child support attorney at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.

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