When A Spouse Threatens To Quit Their Job To Avoid Paying Support

26 June 2023
 Categories: Law, Blog


During a divorce, your spouse might try to evade their financial responsibilities by quitting their job or taking a lower-paying one. In this situation, you may feel frustrated, angry, and helpless. However, there are steps you can take to protect your rights and your children's well-being.

Know Your Rights

First, you should know that quitting a job does not automatically reduce or eliminate a spouse's support obligation. The court will examine the reasons behind the employment change and whether it was done in good faith.

If the court finds that your spouse quit their job voluntarily or intentionally to avoid paying support, they can calculate their income based on their earning potential, not their actual income. This means that the court will calculate support as if your spouse still had their previous job or a similar one.

How to Prove That the Act of Quitting Was Illegitimate

To prove that your spouse quit their job for improper reasons, you will need to gather evidence such as:

  • Their work history, education, skills, and qualifications
  • Their previous income and benefits
  • Their current income and expenses
  • Their job search efforts, or lack thereof
  • Their lifestyle and spending habits
  • Statements that indicate their intention to avoid paying

You may also need to hire an expert witness, such as a vocational evaluator, to assess your spouse's employability and earning capacity. The expert can testify about the availability of jobs in your spouse's field, the salary range for those jobs, and the factors that affect your spouse's ability to find and keep a job.

What to Do If Your Ex Files a Motion

If your spouse has filed a motion to modify support based on their reduced income, you can oppose it by presenting your evidence and arguments to the court. You can also file a motion to execute the existing support order or increase it if your circumstances have changed.

For example, if you have more expenses due to your spouse's unemployment or underemployment, such as childcare, health insurance, or transportation, you can ask the court to adjust the amount accordingly.

You Have Rights

You do not have to accept your spouse's attempt to evade their support obligations by quitting their job. You have options to hold them accountable and ensure that they contribute fairly to your children's and your needs. However, you will need the help of a divorce attorney who can advise you throughout the process. 

Contact a local divorce office such as Peterson & Peterson LLC to learn more.