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Child Support and Presumptions of Employment

Calculating whether a parent must pay child support and how much depends on a number of factors. What happens when one parent is purposely unemployed or underemployed to avoid paying support?

How child support is normally calculated

Generally, child support is calculated by the combined gross income of both parents, then allocated based on their proportionate share of that income. There are statutory guidelines to provide the presumptive amount of basic support parents should pay, and the amount can be adjusted based on percentage of parenting time.

When the parenting time is equal, child support is usually not ordered unless the child’s expenses are not equally shared between parents, or their incomes are different.

Calculating child support when one parent is under- or unemployed

Some parents are voluntarily under- or unemployed in an attempt to avoid paying support. In that case, the court will determine child support based on the parent’s potential income. To arrive at this amount, the court considers probable earnings based on:

  • Employment potential
  • Recent work history
  • Occupational qualifications
  • Unemployment or workers’ compensation income
  • Full-time wages which could be earned working 30 hours per week at federal or state minimum wage, whichever is higher

Keep in mind that if a parent is physically or mentally incapacitated, or incarcerated for reasons other than failing to pay child support, they are not considered voluntarily under- or unemployed. There may be other applicable exceptions, depending on your ex’s individual circumstances.

If you suspect that your ex is purposely not working to avoid support obligations, notify your attorney right away.

To learn more about child support and enforcing payment, call the experienced family law attorneys at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. in St. Paul, MN.

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