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Can Your Ex Avoid Paying Child Support?

patrickcrawford | February 24, 2020

When you get divorced or establish paternity, the family court will address several child-related matters, including child custody and child support. Child support refers to regular payments made by one parent to the other to provide financial support for the child’s needs. While child support is not paid in every situation, these orders are common among unmarried or divorced parents.

Establishing Child Support Orders

Child support is determined by a formula set out by Maryland law. The judge does not simply pick a random amount of support but instead uses a calculation based on the income of each parent and, in some situations, the division of custody. A parent who earns significantly more income than the other, or who has less physical time with the child, will likely be ordered to pay child support.

Enforcing Child Support Orders

While child support orders are intended to be fair based on the income of each parent, there are many times in which the parent ordered to pay support fails to do so. Failing to comply with a court order for child support is a serious matter, and the recipient of the support can work to enforce the court order in different ways. The state and court have different tools for enforcement, such as:

  • Wage garnishments and benefit withholdings
  • The interception of tax refunds
  • Reporting past-due support to credit bureaus
  • Having the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) suspend the non-paying parent’s driver’s license
  • Reporting the default to relevant professional licensing boards
  • Levies on bank accounts
  • Liens on property or assets
  • Filing a motion to compel payment from the court
  • Holding the non-paying parent in contempt of court 

If you need to enforce an existing child support order, you should contact an Annapolis child support lawyer right away for guidance.

Challenging a Modification Request

If your ex wants to permanently reduce the child support ordered, they can petition the court for a child support modification. They must prove that they have experienced a substantial change in financial circumstances in order to have their payments reduced. Often, an ex will claim unemployment or lower income as the reason they need their payments reduced or eliminated. 

Is it possible for your ex to avoid paying child support by quitting their job or purposely earning less at a lower-paying position? You would be surprised how many parents try this at the time of a child support order or modification. They present their loss of income to the court, hoping it will reduce their payments on a long-term basis. Fortunately, courts know this tactic, and judges will look deeper into the situation. 

If you suspect your ex is trying to avoid paying child support in this manner, you need an experienced child support attorney in Annapolis who can help you challenge the petition for modification. If your ex is purposely limiting income for this reason, your lawyer can request the judge to impute income to your ex. 

If the judge finds that the lower earnings are voluntary, they can impute income based on:

  • Your ex’s physical and mental capabilities
  • Level of education
  • Their efforts to find and secure gainful employment
  • Their past employment and whether their abilities changed
  • The job market for someone of their qualification
  • Their failure to make child support payments in the past

A child support order can be based on imputed income instead of the income – or lack thereof – stated by your ex. 

Learn How an Annapolis Child Support Lawyer Can Help

If you have a child support question or concern, contact the Law Office of Patrick Crawford for assistance. Call 1-410-216-7905 or contact us online for an appointment today.