Voluntary Impoverishment: Purposely Reducing Income After Divorce

At Green & Weinstein, PC, in Annapolis, Maryland, we represent clients on both sides of a voluntary impoverishment case. These are complex, often emotional cases that affect clients in their most personal of matters: money, parenting, work and relationships.

If you wish to talk to an attorney about your situation, we invite you to call us at 410-280-2696 to schedule a consultation.

What Is Voluntary Impoverishment?

When a parent or former spouse stops working in order to not pay child support or spousal support, he or she may be considered to be voluntary impoverished. Voluntary impoverishment includes:

  • Voluntarily quitting a job
  • Refusing to seek employment
  • Significant underemployment
  • Hiding financial assets
  • Hiding income earned from self-employment

Voluntary impoverishment is more common than many people think. If the court determines that an individual has voluntarily impoverished him or herself — by quitting a job or drastically reducing hours, for example — the court will impute an income based on prior earnings, ability to work and other related factors.

Child Support

The law is clear that a noncustodial parent ordered to pay child support is responsible to make payments according to the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. Unfortunately, many noncustodial parents think of child support as supporting the other parents' household, not specifically supporting the child; Maryland does not obligate the custodial parent to provide an accounting as to how the child support is spent.

Quitting a job or refusing to accept employment can be argued to the court as voluntary impoverishment. The court has the capacity to impute additional income to the person obliged to pay support. This means that the court can determine the parties' earning capability and calculate child support using an imputed income.


An order to pay spousal support, often called alimony, is also a legal obligation. Voluntary impoverishment can result in having income imputed. Deliberately ignoring a court order to pay spousal support can result in a finding of Contempt of Court and ultimately incarceration and an establishment of arrears.

How We Can Help

Attorneys Dawn Green and Charlotte Weinstein provide aggressive representation in child support and alimony cases involving voluntary impoverishment/underemployment. They understand how emotional and contentious support obligations can become for both sides of the issue. They are responsive to your needs and compassionate about your situation, no matter what side of the issue you are on.

Questions? Please Contact Us to Learn How We Can Help.

Complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation with attorney Dawn Green or Charlotte Weinstein about your voluntary underemployment case.