Baltimore & Towson Lawyer DIscusses Voluntary Impoverishment and Child Support
Couples who share a child or children will face various child-related issues if they decide to separate or ultimately divorce. For instance, when a couple divorces, it is not uncommon for one (or both) parties to seek alimony and/or child support. In some cases, one party may have decided to be a stay-at-home parent while the other party worked to take care of the family. But the harsh reality of the situation is you now face having two households that will call for two sets of living expenses.
When such situations arise during divorce proceedings, the unemployed (or underemployed) party may begin to feel like he or she should not have to get a job or make any changes in order to contribute to the household, especially if the divorce was the other party’s idea. However, your Towson family law attorney will tell you -- the law is very clear with respect to parental financial responsibilities.
The Laws Regarding Support
Under Maryland law, if a parent has the ability to earn income and contribute to the support of his or her minor child, that parent is required to do so. More specifically, the law states, “the parents of a minor child are jointly and severally responsible for the child’s support, care, nurture, welfare, and education.”
Some parents may contend that since they have been out of the workforce for so long raising kids, they may not have the job skills necessary to become gainfully employed. However, in the 2004 case of Brewer v. Brewer, the court found that income may be imputed to an individual if he or she has the ability to earn more income than what is being earned at the time of the divorce.
Determining Voluntary Impoverishment
To determine if an individual is “voluntarily impoverished,” the court will examine whether or not the person lowered his or her income by changing jobs, quitting a job or retiring in an effort to avoid paying support. In the 1995 case of Wills v. Jones, the court defined “voluntary” to mean that the action taken must “be both an exercise of unconstrained free will and…intentional.”
It is important to note that if there are factors beyond one’s control, such as a company lay-off or job termination, a court will likely find that the individual is not voluntarily impoverished.
When a judge makes his or her determination regarding a party’s status with respect to voluntary impoverishment, the following factors will be taken into account:
- The party’s education
- His or her present physical condition
- The individual’s efforts to find a job and stay employed
- The timing of the change in financial circumstances in relation to the timing of the divorce proceedings
- Prior work history
- The locale where the parties live and the job market in that area
Anyone who believes he or she is facing a possible finding of voluntary impoverishment is encouraged to work with a skilled attorney who is well aware of the law and the court’s expectations with respect to employment. If you have any questions or concerns about your rights under the law, contact the Law Offices of Amar Weisman, LLC as soon as possible.
Call (410) 321-4994 For a Free Consultation
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 County & Harford County 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.