In most cases, going into a state of being unemployed or underemployed is not something a person does on purpose. For example, in the past few years, many people here in Texas and the rest of the nation were unwillingly pushed into unemployment or underemployment by poor economic conditions.
However, instances do sometimes arise in which a person consciously chooses to intentionally be unemployed or underemployed. In a child support case in which the parent who is likely to be ordered to pay child support is unemployed or underemployed, one thing that can be very impactful is whether or not their unemployment/underemployment was intentional.
Typically, Texas courts use a parent’s actual income when calculating the amount of a child support obligation. However, under state law, when a parent who is going to be ordered to pay child support is intentionally unemployed/underemployed, and this unemployment/underemployment has significantly reduced the parent’s actual income, courts can use the parent’s earning potential rather than their actual income when calculating the parent’s child support obligation amount.
Allowing courts this option makes sense, as it gives courts a mechanism to respond if a parent tries to game the system by intentionally lowering their workload to try to reduce their child support obligations.
If a divorced or separated parent with an unemployed or underemployed ex suspects that their ex’s unemployment/underemployment is intentional, they may want to speak with an attorney about what they would be able to argue in child support proceedings regarding their ex’s employment status.