It happens all too often. A parent is ordered to pay child support but you believe that they are not making an effort to find a job because they want to avoid paying that child support. What can you do when the alternate residential parent is not paying child support because they do not have a job?

Under Tennessee law, both parentshave a responsibility to contribute to raising the child. In situations where the child lives with one parent, that parent bears all of the financial burden of raising that child when the child’s other parent refuses to contribute. The state of Tennessee’s child support guidelines allow for imputing (assigning) income for non-residential parents who seem to be underemployed or unemployed in an effort to dodge their obligation to pay a portion of their income for child support.

If a parent seems to be voluntarily or willfully underemployed or unemployed the court needs to see evidence that the parent is capable, that they have the educational and employment background to earn more income than they are earning. For example, if a parent with a Bachelor’s degree and 15 years of work experience at a professional level loses their job and does not exert sufficient effort towards finding a new job, but instead takes a “menial” job, the court might impute income to that parent if it is clear that their underemployment it purposeful. However, if a parent has been unable to find a new job, or has taken a part-time job in order to care for a sick relative, or for some reasonable purpose the court may not impute income for that parent.

If you can prove that your co-parent’s underemployment or unemployment is purposeful and willful the court may impute a minimum income to that parent for child support purposes according to the Tennessee child support guidelines. Our office can guide you in gathering the information necessary to present to the court to collect the child support to which you are entitled.

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