“My Ex Refuses to Work: Can The Judge Make Him/Her Pay Support?”

Nothing can be more frustrating to work than a former partner who is able to work, but will not do so because it will reduce their spousal or child support, or force them to pay support.

What can a judge do with a person like that?

Well, first there are some requirements. That must be shown to be able to work and make money. This means both the physical ability to work, the job experience to work, and available work in their field. There are often conflicts over medical conditions, whether or not jobs are available, and whether or not a person is working adequately as a student to get education for employment. These things are matters of proof.

Once a judge finds that a person has the ability and opportunity to work, the judge may do what is called “imputing income” to that party, which essentially involves putting in the money that they COULD be earning if they chose to into the support calculation.

The most common amount imputed is minimum wage. This is because it is much easier to prove that a person could be doing at least SOME kind of work, rather than something specific. Of you intend to ask the judge to find that a person can make more than minimum wage, it is important to present evidence of the actual average wages of people in their profession are in your location.

What about cases of cash jobs? Many people try to hide their income by working for cash, especially in cases where they are employed by friends, family, or not-quite-above-board businesses. This also comes up with self-employed people who try to hide their income as they run their own business.

In these cases, it is important to do appropriate discovery to turn up hidden assets and income. It can be an expensive, time consuming process, but the rewards can be significant. It is hard to completely hide a financial trail, and most people do not like someone digging deeply into their finances when they are trying to hide income. Many cases compromise and settle when thorough investigation has been done.

In any of the above cases, be prepared for a time consuming fight, as nothing comes quickly when the finances of the opposing party are not at all clear and may be being actively hidden.

DISCLAIMER: All legal principles quoted are valid as of the date of writing in the State of California. However, you should NEVER base your actions on a legal article, blog, or internet story, as facts in real life are complicated. You should have your case evaluated by an attorney experienced in the area of law needed for your case. In addition, there are often exceptions and potential changes to results that occur due to facts that you may think are trivial or unimportant. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.