During the pendency of a Missouri divorce, it is not totally uncommon for one spouse to become unemployed during the proceedings. This is especially true when the issue of spousal support or child support are raised. However, your spouse (soon to be former) cannot simply become unemployed in order to purposely impact the divorce proceedings.
Dealing with Unemployment During Divorce
Employment of the spouses is one of the many important considerations the judge has to consider when making decisions related to your divorce. This includes both spousal support and child support. The amount a particular parent earns before the divorce can have a significant impact on the decisions made throughout the rest of the case.
When a spouse becomes sick, or has an accident, during the pendency of the divorce, he or she may be "disabled" and unable to work for some amount of time. This could be either permanent or temporary. The court must take this change of circumstances into consideration when making decisions related to the divorce. If the spouse is unable to work, either temporarily or permanently, the court cannot impute an income to the other parent, which can greatly change things.
This is not the same when a spouse has the capacity to earn an income but ceases employment, either voluntarily or involuntarily. If a person is laid off during a divorce but is able to eventually find work in their field, evidence can be taken about the spouse's potential income for purposes of considering spousal support or child support.
The concept of voluntary unemployment stems from when one spouse purposely quits his or her job in order to affect the amount he or she will have to pay as part of the divorce decision. This is seen as attempting to avoid the financial responsibility the spouse would otherwise have were he or she not voluntarily unemployed.
Courts do not take kindly to this. Not at all. This is, essentially, defrauding the court. Courts will usually see right through this as well, and it can have a major impact on a person's case when the court realizes what one spouse is doing.
Proving Your Spouse's Income
When your spouse becomes unemployed but is still potentially employable, there are ways to present evidence to the court to show what his or her imputed income should be. This includes the use of bank statements, income history, prior years' tax forms, and more.
You may also hire an expert witness to testify about the potential for future employment for the spouse. He or she can talk about the state of the job market, the spouse's potential earnings in the future, as well as talk about the impact of your spouse's earning history and education.
Consult an Experienced Missouri Family Law Attorney
If you are experiencing difficulty with unemployment issues during divorce, or your spouse is, there are ways to make sure that the court is aware of the situation you face. Joshua Wilson is an experienced family law attorney who can help you develop the best plan possible for handling your divorce.