Can a Parent Quit Their Job or Decrease Their Income to Decrease or Avoid Child Support?

There is strong public policy in favor of providing adequate child support, such that court often ‘impute income’ to a parent, in order to meet the needs of the child. Marriage of Destein (2001) 91 CA4th 1385, 1391.

While there is no statute to point to what defines earning capacity, its meaning has been well established in Marriage of Regnery (1989) 214 CA3d 1367, 1372. State v Vargas (1999) 70 CA4th 1123, 1125. The Regnery court found that one can be imputed when unemployed or underemployed parent. They adopted a three-part test allowing imputation when the parent has (1) the ability to work (taking into account factors such as age, occupation, skill, education, health, background, job experience, and qualifications, and (2) an opportunity to work (an employer willing to hire), but (3) lacks the willingness to work consistent with ability and opportunity. 214 CA3d at 1372. Courts after Regenery recognized...

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