Can judge order someone on disability to pay child support?


Attorney Tom Olsen: Let’s go ahead and get started. First in line, this Saturday morning, is Connie. Connie, you’re on News 96.5, go ahead.

Connie: Good morning. I just have a question regarding child support. If both parents are on disability and -- when the judge -- the physical custody is with one parent -- and the judge then imputes the other person, that they are able to work 20 hours a week, so they impute their income as including that, they particularly add income that they don’t really have. Is that legal? 

Attorney Tom Olsen: Connie, I’m going to guess that the answer
is yes. Paul Newnum is our Family Law divorce attorney, if this is important to you Paul is in my office right now and I’m going to give you his phone number in just a minute. But here’s what I want to equate it to, is that if -- let’s just say that a couple are divorced and let’s just say that the father is unemployed. If the father went to the judge in the court saying, “You know what? I’m unemployed, I can’t afford to pay any child support.” Well, the judge is not going to say, “Zero child support,” the judge is going to say, “You know what? You could be working, you could be working at a minimum wage job if nothing else and therefore I’m going to make you pay child support even if you’re not working.” And I think the same thing is going to be probably true for this disability. Connie, if this is important to you, Paul Newnum -- he’s our Family Law divorce attorney -- you can hang up with me and you can call Paul at my office right now.
Hey Paul, before you go.

Attorney Paul Newnum: Yes.

Attorney Tom Olsen: I got a call earlier in the show and it was regarding child support and people who are on disability. So, if you’re on disability, will a judge count that as income as far as calculating what child support the person on disability might owe?

Attorney Paul Newnum: Yes. 

Attorney Tom Olsen: And will a judge ever go farther and say, “You know what? You’re on disability, but I think you could be working too or anyway,” and calculate child support even on unearned income because they’re on disability?

Attorney Paul Newnum: A judge can impute income and that would require the judge to make written findings to fact about why the judge thinks that person is voluntarily underemployed, but it can be done.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Thank you Paul, we appreciate it.

Attorney Paul Newnum: Okay.

Attorney Tom Olsen: That’s Paul Newnum, he’s our Family Law divorce attorney, he is at my office right now standing by to talk to you at 407-423-5561.