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Baltimore County Family Law Attorney Blog

Baltimore & Towson Lawyer Discusses Voluntary Impoverishment

Written by Amar Weisman » December 16, 2015 »

When it comes to the payment of child support in Maryland, the law is clear: Parents who are capable of earning income and contributing to the support of their child or children must provide such support. Still, there are occasions when a parent will attempt to avoid his or her financial obligations to the child by quitting a job or taking a job that is well below his or her capabilities and/or normal pay grade. This is where a discussion of voluntary impoverishment becomes necessary.

In fact, your Towson family law attorney will tell you that the court in the 1993 case of Goldberger v. Goldberger found “voluntary impoverishment” to be when an individual has made a “free and conscious choice, not compelled by factors beyond his or her control, to render himself or herself without adequate resources.” In a different case, the Maryland Court of Appeals had included a requirement that the act “to reduce oneself to poverty” had to be done “with the intention of avoiding child support or spousal obligations.”

In 1995, that requirement was found by the court to be too narrow, and instead, the court specified that a parent who has become impoverished by choice is “voluntarily impoverished” regardless of the parent’s intent with respect to his or her child support obligations.

Intent is Still Relevant to the Court

When determining whether or not a parent has become voluntarily impoverished, the court will consider several factors, as well as the party’s intentions with respect to his or her support obligations because all of that information is relevant to the case. Such factors include the parent’s education level, current physical condition, the relationship between the parties prior to the divorce being initiated, the efforts made by the parent to find and keep employment and the timing of any change in employment or financial circumstances, among other things.

To be clear, intent is not a requirement when looking at whether a person is seeking to avoid his or her support obligations. In fact, the difficulty for courts often arises in cases that involve other reasons for a reduction of income. Even in cases where a parent directly (or indirectly) caused their income to fall or he or she reduces his or her work hours on purpose, the court will likely not find that parent to be voluntarily impoverished unless the main objective or purpose of the parent’s actions was to make as little money as possible – far less than they are capable of making.

If you have a Baltimore County or Middle River family law case, questions or concerns about voluntary impoverishment, do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Amar Weisman, LLC as soon as possible to discuss the specifics of your case.

Call For a Free Consultation With a Catonsville & Towson Family Law Lawyer

Call The Law Offices of Amar S. Weisman at (410) 321-4994 to schedule a Free Consultation. The Purpose of the consultation is to determine whether you want to retain this law firm as your Baltimore & Towson Family Lawyer. If you do wish to proceed, then you must pay a retainer. See Our Policy on Fees and Costs. The family firm is located next to The Circuit Court for Baltimore County, at 1018 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson, MD 21204.