October 8, 2013. We’ve all heard the story where a person going through divorce quits their job to “stick it” to the other spouse in order to avoid paying child support. In reality, cutting your nose off to spite your face rarely works. This game is occasionally played during divorce negotiation, but usually not for long. The court looks at earning capacity in situations where a spouse either voluntarily reduces their income by taking a substantially lesser-paying job or by quitting all together. The court will look at previous income and inpute or attribute income to that parent. Sometimes it is only minimum wage, but it’s something.
The court will determine if the inability to earn an income is self-inflicted or voluntary. The court will look at the needs of the children and make a determination as to what is appropriate. The self-infliction rule applies equitable principles to the determination of child support in order to prevent parents from gaining an advantage by reducing their earning capacity or ability to pay support through improper intent or reckless conduct. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 712.226.4000 to learn more about our family law practice.