What Does the Court Do When the Support Paying Father is Self Employed?

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“This is a child support question. I live in Indiana. I have just filed to modify child support for my daughter (I am using the local prosecutor’s office), which I have not modified in 13 years. I found out her father owns a $327,000 house and $188,000 condo. I have been receiving $64 a week for 13 years for 1 child (at that time, he claimed to only earn $8.00 per hour). The problem is, he is now self-employed. I know he would not get a “paycheck”. He told me he only makes $20,000 a year (which is obviously hog-wash by proof of his real estate, frequent trips and toys I heard about from his friends). I am sure he does not claim all is income. He has never, ever given me money for anything else. Only his court ordered child support and his share of the medical receipts insurance does not cover. I pay for EVERYTHING!! Health and dental insurance, schooling expenses, clothes, you name it. I know he is worried, as he asked me to take a lump-sum check, but I told him I would not agree to anything that does not involve the court. What does the court noramlly do in cases when the father is self-employed (stating he has a low income), which I’m sure his tax returns (for reasons of not paying a lot of taxes), shows he made very little? I also posted a question on visitation, as now because of this new request to modify/raise support, he is demanding visitation to Florida. Which, I do know, that one does not affect the other, but he is associating the two in hopes I believe of lowering child support.”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

When a person is willing to hide income and work with unscrupulous people who do not report his earnings, it’s tough to break through such a conspiracy. If he’s willing to lie to the IRS, then he’s willing to lie to you and the support collection agency. The Court does have power to make a person seek work if they are un or underemployed. Additionally, if the person does not make reasonable efforts to find work, and they remain un or underemployed, the Court has the power to impute an income to what they should be making. His education and earning history will help guide the support collection agency on how vigorously they will investigate and demand work efforts if the reported $20,000 is too low. However, The fact that he has assets does not automatically entitle your daughter to more support.

In most states, visitation will effect support somewhat. However, if it’s just a couple of visits here and there, then it will not be that dramatic of an effect. And it sounds like it will take some time for your daughter and her father’s relationship to heal.

Most Courts do not like children actually testifying. They would prefer that the parents work it out, because you’ll know more about your case than the judge ever will, and it isn’t fair to children to have to make the decisions. Kids only have one biological mother and father, so absent abuse it is generally in a child’s best interests to have access to both parents. In California, where I practice, children over the age of 14 are sometimes elicited for their opinions on what timeshare should be. However that is not the end of the story. It puts the Court in a tough position – if it orders it like the child wants, the child has too large of an opinion of their control of the case; if it goes the other way, then it’s another example of how adults do not listen to the children. Both messages reinforce the wrong things.

Sometimes transportation costs are split, sometimes they are bourne by the one necessitating the travel, and sometimes they are prorated according to income. You may think about using transportation cost as a bargaining chip if you do decide that there will be a time in the future that your daughter will be able to enjoy time with her father in that house and condo in Florida.

As of right now, and without a specific order there is no requirement that your daughter go to visit in Florida. It does not sound like there is a specific order requiring visits outside of your daughter’s home state. However, since it is usually in children’s best interests to have contact with both parents, you should keep up those efforts you’ve made over the years to get your daughter and her Father together.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.

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