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Will I Be Ordered To Pay Child Support If I’m Unemployed?

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If you do not have a job, you may wonder if you can be ordered to pay child support despite unemployment. Each parent’s current employment is one of many factors that are considered by Florida courts when deciding whether to order child support in a divorce.

Contrary to popular belief, just because you are unemployed does not necessarily mean that you will not be ordered to pay child support. In fact, if you intentionally stay unemployed to avoid paying child support, you can face serious penalties.

Consult with an Orlando child support lawyer to determine if you will be ordered to financially support your minor child.

Can You Avoid Child Support if You Are Unemployed?

In Florida, child support awards are based on each parent’s income and employment at the time of dissolution of the marriage. However, current income and employment are not the only factors considered by courts when determining who should pay child support in a divorce.

If one or both parents are unemployed at the time of the divorce, the child support order will be based on the parents’:

  • Most recent employment and income
  • Job skills and qualifications
  • Earning capacity
  • Education

If an unemployed parent is receiving unemployment benefits, the court may consider the amount of unemployment benefits until the parent finds a job.

Florida Courts Can Impute the Unemployed Parent’s Income

When a parent voluntarily quits their job and chooses to stay unemployed despite their ability to find gainful employment, the court may base the child support award on:

  • The parent’s most recent income; or
  • The minimum wage in Florida to impute the unemployed parent’s income.

When a court imputes income, it assigns income to a parent to create a legal obligation to pay child support.

In other words, even if a parent is unemployed, they may still be ordered to pay child support. Consult with a lawyer to determine if you can be obligated to pay child support despite your unemployment.

When Do Florida Courts Impute a Parent’s Income for Child Support?

There are three situations in which a court can impute a parent’s income when calculating child support.

  1. Underreported income. When a parent underreports their income and the court determines that the parent is actually earning more than they report, it can impute the parent’s income.
  2. Voluntary unemployment. When a parent can find gainful employment but does not do so, the court can impute their income on the basis of voluntary unemployment. Examples of voluntary unemployment include voluntarily quitting a high-paying job and not applying for new jobs
  3. Underemployment. A court may also impute a parent’s income for child support purposes when the parent maintains a job that is far below their income potential.

You Can Face Penalties for Not Paying Child Support

While paying child support can put a strain on your finances after a divorce, failing to comply with a court order is associated with a wide range of negative consequences, including:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Late payment fees
  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Suspension of a driver’s license

If you are going through a divorce in Florida, you may want to consult with an attorney to determine if you will be ordered to pay child support even if you are unemployed. Contact our knowledgeable and skilled attorney at the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., to discuss your particular case. Call 407-521-7171.

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