Can My Ex Quit a Job to Avoid Paying Child Support?


If a noncustodial parent becomes unemployed or experiences a reduction in income due to factors beyond his or her control, it’s possible to request a modification of the child support set after a Pasadena divorce. However, noncustodial parents are not allowed to pay less child support if they have voluntarily quit their jobs or taken other steps to reduce their earning potential as a way of sidestepping their financial obligations to their children.

Voluntary unemployment is defined as quitting a job, leaving work to return to school, taking early retirement, or losing a job because of misconduct or illegal activity. Voluntary underemployment is defined as choosing a lower paying career as part of a planned job change or leaving a full-time job to start your own business.

If the court thinks that a noncustodial parent is not working as a way to willfully avoid paying child support, the court can order support based on imputed income. This is essentially an educated guess as to what the parent would earn based on factors like age, education, past work experience, and the current job market. Imputed income is usually based on the testimony of a vocational expert.

If you believe that your ex is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed as a way to avoid paying child support, you will need to discuss the next steps with your attorney. Proof that a change in income was voluntary can be made by submitting evidence such as results from an unemployment insurance hearing, testimony from an employer, copies of social media posts in which your ex admits to having voluntarily left a position or reduced working hours, or emails to you in which your ex threatens to do whatever it takes to avoid paying child support.

How Can We Help?

Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at if you are in need of assistance with a child support related issue. Our Pasadena divorce attorneys can discuss your options and help you develop a strategy that best addresses your unique situation.