In Hawaii and across the United States, ex-spouses often practice “voluntary impoverishment.” A former spouse who does not want to make child support payments uses the tactic as a way to manipulate the law. A person practicing voluntary impoverishment may lie to the Internal Revenue Service by reporting less income than they earn. The ex-spouse may refuse to work at high-paying jobs or abandon all forms of employment. A parent relying on child support checks may no longer have the ability to take care of their child.

A person who believes their ex-spouse is voluntarily impoverished may want to call the Office of Child Support Enforcement. Signs to watch out for include unemployment when there is no need for lack of work or a menial job even though the ex-spouse was formerly a professional. Sometimes, spouses make verbal child support agreements. Contacting an official government agency can help the custodial parent gain control of the situation. A court may disregard verbal contracts as not holding the weight of the law.

A written agreement may help rectify the situation. The spouse who has been skipping child support responsibilities will need to abide by the court’s child support order or face legal consequences. The Office of Child Support Enforcement will study the former spouse’s finances and work history to determine whether they are guilty of foul play. However, the court cannot force a person to pay child support payments if the individual is poor.

Any parent who feels that their former spouse is deliberately practicing voluntary impoverishment may want to speak with a family law attorney. A lawyer will listen to the person’s concerns and then study all the facts before deciding how to approach the situation. Contacting an attorney may result in finding a satisfactory resolution to neglectful child support issues.