How is child support decided for unemployed parents?

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2023 | Family Law And Divorce

Child support is one of the essential issues discussed during divorce proceedings. Parents could provide insight about child support matters, but the court finalizes these decisions after reviewing each parent’s income.

The judge usually assesses the parents’ weekly gross income, but what happens if one is unemployed? The court determines the voluntarily unemployed or underemployed parent’s child support obligations based on their potential income. This amount depends on the following factors:

  • Potential earnings based on employment history
  • Work experience
  • Level of education attained
  • Age and health condition
  • Literacy, criminal history and other employment limitations
  • Work opportunities and earning capability in society or their community

Some parents might not have the following work history and experience to help calculate potential income. If so, the court could use the federal minimum wage level. Calculations could also vary, depending on the parent’s ability to support themselves and their child.

Deductions before calculating child support

The court could make certain deductions before calculating child support from their gross or potential income. The judge would consider the following:

  • Spousal support
  • Support for other children
  • Other court-ordered obligations
  • Legal duties to children with former partners or spouses

After making these deductions, the court would have an income base they could use to calculate child support. Still, they would review the parents’ circumstances first. Some parents could receive adjustments based on other recurring costs such as education fees, child care expenses and health care insurance premiums.

Unemployed parents might also need to spend on their job search or other livelihood endeavors. The court could review these issues during proceedings, allowing them to make a reasonable decision.