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Child support and voluntary unemployment

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2023 | Firm News

In Louisiana family law cases, courts consider many factors when they decide how much child support must be paid.

The primary concern is the best interests of the child and serving their needs. The state has a guideline it uses to order a child support amount. Among other things, the court weighs the paying parent’s income.

In some instances, a parent does not earn significant income because of voluntary unemployment or underemployment. Courts take this into account based on the law.

For people in this situation, having professional guidance is essential.

What happens if there is voluntary unemployment or underemployment?

If a parent is unemployed or underemployed, the court will base the child support award not on what a person earns but on what they could earn if they got a job suitable to their education, skills and other attributes. The only exception is if the person is incapacitated in some way or cares for a child younger than five.

The court can base its determination on the Louisiana Occupational Employment Wage Survey. It will also look at the person’s assets; residence; work history; earnings history; skills; education; age and health; if they are literate; if there are barriers to employment such as a criminal record; if they have been actively seeking work or not; the state of the job market; the community earnings; other factors the court believes to be relevant.

Natural disasters that have limited a person’s ability to find suitable employment will be considered. It can also be a justification for unemployment or underemployment if the person was incarcerated and their employment obstacles stem from them being incarcerated.

Professional representation

Parents are expected to support their children in all their fundamental needs. If a parent is not employed at a job that is paying enough, the court can still order a child support amount it deems sufficient despite the parent’s income. When this is an issue, the paying parent and the receiving parent need to have legal assistance to try and find a workable solution.