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What if your ex is remaining “voluntarily impoverished?”

On Behalf of | May 18, 2024 | Divorce

When most people divorce and are likely to pay alimony (known as spousal maintenance in Maryland) and/or child support, they recognize their responsibilities and are prepared to live up to them. 

Unfortunately, some people try to hide money and even convince the court that they aren’t capable of earning the income they’re able to earn. Sometimes they intentionally minimize their income to pay less in support (or receive more).

What is “imputed income?”

Because some people have been known to try these tactics, when considering both kinds of payments, courts look at not just the income of both people but their earning potential as well. This is sometimes called “imputed income.”

Imputed income is what a person should be able to earn based on their education, experience, skills and what others in their profession and location are earning. The court may consider other factors like their age, health, family or other responsibilities and if they’ve been out of the job market for a while (particularly if they’re the recipient spouse). 

What does Maryland law say?

Some people go so far as turning down opportunities to increase their income if they know it means they’ll have to pay more support – even for their child. They might do it because they think they’re paying too much already or sometimes (especially with spousal maintenance) simply out of spite. Maryland law refers to this as being “voluntarily impoverished.”

Under the law, if one party accuses the other of being voluntarily impoverished, the court will determine what that person’s earning potential is and if it’s close to their actual income. There are exceptions for things like physical or mental disability and if they’re caring for a young child.

Whichever side of the support equation you’re on, if you believe that your ex is intentionally failing to live up to their earning potential or even hiding assets and income, you must make the court aware. The stronger your case, the better your chances of getting the financial relief you seek. Having experienced legal guidance can make a big difference in the outcome.

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