The adversarial divorce is over and your former spouse has been ordered to pay child support for the child you have together; however, you believe that they are not making an effort to find a job because they want to avoid paying child support. What can a primary residential parent do when the alternate residential parent is not paying child support because they do not have a job?

Under Tennessee law, both parents have a responsibility to contribute to raising the child. In situations where the child lives with one parent, that parent bears all of the financial burden of raising that child when the child’s other parent refuses to contribute. The state of Tennessee’s child support guidelines allow for imputing income for non-residential parents who seem to be underemployed or unemployed in an effort to dodge their obligation to pay a portion of their income for child support.

Tennessee uses an income shares model to calculate child support payments. On the Department of Human Services website you can download documents and plug in numbers into a child support calculator to get an estimate of how much you might be expected to pay depending on how much income you make and how many other children you bear financial responsibility for.

Proving voluntary unemployment or underemployment

If a parent seems to be voluntarily or willfully underemployed or unemployed the court needs to see evidence that the parent is capable, that they have the educational and employment background to earn more income than they are earning. For example, if a parent with a Master’s degree and 18 years of work experience at the executive level loses their job and does not exert sufficient effort towards finding a new job, but instead takes a “menial” job, the court might impute income to that parent if it is clear that their underemployment it purposeful. However, if a parent has been unable to find a new job, or has taken a prat-time job in order to care for a sick relative, or for some reasonable purpose the court may not impute income for that parent.
If you can prove that your co-parent’s underemployment or unemployment is purposeful and willful the court may impute a minimum income to that parent for child support purposes according to the Tennessee child support guidelines, which is approximately $35,852 for men and $26,450 for women. It can be helpful to work with a knowledgeable Franklin child support attorney who has helped countless parents before you enforce child support orders.

Facing child support enforcement issues after your divorce? You are welcome to contact the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates today. We have offices in Franklin, Brentwood and Columbia for your convenience.