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What is Voluntary Impoverishment?


Are you stuck in a marriage with a spouse who refuses to work? Are you considering divorce but are concerned you will be forced to pay alimony to a husband or wife who has not contributed periodically throughout the marriage? This scenario is not uncommon. Voluntary impoverishment is defined as making a conscious choice to avoid employment or schooling, even if on a part-time basis. Unlike unemployment due to a firing, layoff or termination, a person who is voluntarily impoverished intentionally leaves a job, gets fired or continues to decline looking for new employment. Even if a couple previously discussed that one partner would be a homemaker and the other would work outside the home, finances and circumstances change. It’s unfair for one partner to refuse to contribute to the financial health of the household or constantly create instability within the marriage. At some point, that spouse should step up to the plate and contribute to find gainful employment.

Sadly, for some people, avoiding steady work is a lifestyle. And in some cases, some spouses strategically avoid employment as an insidious method to not pay child support, or in advance of a divorce filing to qualify for alimony. This can seriously prevent the other spouse’s willingness to file for divorce even if that is best for the union, and it also diminishes the impoverished parent’s relationship with their kids. If your spouse refuses to work or your now ex-spouse is voluntarily impoverished and refuses to pay court-ordered child support, contact our family law attorneys at Bubley & Bubley, P.A. for assistance.

What is Imputed Income?

Florida courts have imputed income to spouses who intentionally choose refusal to work and maintain their job. Potential income or the ability to generate income can be attributed to the impoverished partner even if the spouse isn’t currently employed. Fla. Stat. 61.30(b) (2020). The court determines a monthly figure using the spouse’s previous income, education level and connections to determine if that spouse is truly eligible for indefinite alimony, and to calculate child support. If it is clear from the history of the marriage and that partner’s employment patterns that the partner is intentionally taking lower paying or unpaid opportunities when they are qualified for a much more high-paying career, the court will also impute the comparable salary to that spouse.

What about Child Support Delinquency?

If you’re already divorced and your ex-husband or ex-wife is now conveniently unemployed, they might state that they can no longer make timely or complete child support payments.  By law, your ex is compelled to continue to make timely child support payments as stated in your divorce decree. Only if they are granted a hardship modification by the presiding court can they be relieved of their duties to financially support their shared children. And qualifying for the modification can be disputed by the other parent if it can be proven that the petitioning parent is strategically avoiding work to be relieved of making payments. Even in bankruptcy, child support cannot be discharged, and if left unpaid, will continue to go into arrears even after the child reaches adulthood. If you think your spouse has deliberately quit a job or has a pattern of quitting or getting terminated from jobs intentionally, you should bring this to the attention of the court as soon as possible.

Call our Family Law Attorneys

Divorce is a monumental step often left unconsidered until it’s too late to reconcile. Many couples end a marriage because of financial strain and incompatibility. If you believe your spouse has methodically avoided working and making gainful contributions throughout the life of your marriage, you should contact a seasoned family law attorney for guidance. Our attorneys at Bubley & Bubley possess decades of experience handling divorce and family law cases, and can assist you with your case too. As you file for divorce, you should not be burdened with the thought of continuing to pay your ex’s every whim and desire because they refuse to get a job, nor should they be relieved of a moral and ethical duty to provide for their children. They have a shared responsibility as a parent to provide for their children, and that means finding and retaining gainful employment. If voluntary impoverishment is affecting your marriage or requires a post-divorce modification, contact our Tampa divorce attorneys at Bubley  & Bubley, P.A. today to schedule a consultation.






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Bubley & Bubley, P.A. is located in Tampa, FL and serves clients in and around Brandon, Odessa, Tampa, Oldsmar, Land O Lakes, Thonotosassa, Valrico, Wesley Chapel, Lutz, St Petersburg, Plant City & Brooksville, Safety Harbor, Holiday, Trilby, Crystal Beach, Ozona, Apollo Beach, New Port Richey, Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, Port Richey, San Antonio, Spring Hill, Lithia, Pasco County and Pinellas County.

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