You may be tempted to think that you do not have to pay child support if you only work part-time. If you are unable to work because you are disabled, you are correct. Although you must prove that you have been found medically disabled by a doctor and show evidence that you rely on Social Security payments to pay your bills, you will likely not have to pay the full amount of child support.

However, if you are a part-time worker who is not disabled, you will likely be ordered to pay child support at a full-time rate. This is because the court may decide that you are able to work full-time, but you choose not to do so.

How Can a Court Decide That I Am “Voluntarily” Underemployed?

If you are not working full-time and do not rely on public assistance, a WA court will typically assume that you are voluntarily working less—or earning less—than you are able to. In these cases, the court may impute income to you. This means that they will base your child support payments on an amount they believe you are capable of making rather than what you actually bring home.

A court may impute income to you if you:

  • Work 40 hours/week or less. In order to determine your child support schedule, a court will usually take your part-time income and use it to calculate your possible full-time rate.
  • Earn less than you previously have. If you are working full-time at a much lower rate than you have previously earned, the court will consider if you are voluntarily earning less. Exceptions may be made if you have recently changed careers or if you make a reasonable amount for someone in your field.

If you wish to have your child support payments based on your actual income, you will have to prove to the court why you are not working as much as they believe you should. To find out more about reducing the amount of your monthly child support, click the link on this page to begin reading our FREE men's guide to divorce in Washington.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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