Intentional Underemployment and Child Support in Texas


Updated on August 22, 2022

Texas takes child support concerns very seriously. When parents are not together, they both remain responsible for supporting their children financially. Child support payments are predicated on each parent’s relative ability to pay.

Texas Family Code addresses the issue of one parent being unemployed—or significantly underemployed—intentionally and, thus, paying less child support than he or she has the earning potential to pay. The burden is on the parent filing the claim to demonstrate the other parent’s intentional unemployment or underemployment.

It is important that you receive the child support payments you are entitled to. If you suspect that your spouse is intentionally unemployed or underemployed, get help from a Copperas Cove family law attorney. He or she will help you construct a solid case and get the child support you need.

To better understand how cases of intentional unemployment or underemployment work, it can be helpful to look at a real case as an example. Recently, a Texas father challenged a trial court’s ruling that he was intentionally unemployed or underemployed. The results of this case are a good example of how these kinds of cases are treated in court.

The Case in Question

The family law case in question is complicated, but here are the basics. The court adjudicated the father's parentage in 2010 and established child custody payments at $1,500 per month based on his salary as a geologist.

The couple got back together years later, and they planned to marry and move out of state for a better-paying job for the father. The father accepted a voluntary layoff program at his current job in lieu of a lump sum payout amounting to 10 months' worth of salary.

Ultimately, the couple did not marry or stay together, and their second child was born in May 2015. The father did not take the new job out of state because he wanted to remain near his children.

He sought a modification of his 2010 child support order due to unemployment (after paying monthly child support payments of $2,137 for 10 months in accordance with his severance pay).

What Happened Next

The father’s modification request was denied by the trial court, after all of the following factors were considered:

  • When the father fell behind in child support payments, the mother moved the court for enforcement of his original child support obligation by contempt.

  • The mother alleged that the father was intentionally unemployed and underemployed.

  • The court reduced the father’s payments to $1,100 pending trial.

The Bench Trial

At a bench trial, the judge determined that the father was indeed intentionally and purposefully unemployed and underemployed. The court ordered the father to pay the full $2,137 in child support and to pay the mother’s legal costs. The father appealed the decision.

The Father’s Case

The father testified that there was virtually no evidence to support the court’s finding of intentional underemployment. However, the mother shared ample evidence that he was working well below his earning potential, and the court concurred.

Seek the Experienced Legal Counsel of a Copperas Cove Family Law Attorney

As evidenced by this case, child support can be a complicated issue. Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Bell County is a dedicated Copperas Cove family law attorney who is committed to helping you obtain child custody terms that support your parental rights.

Our accomplished legal team is on your side, so please do not wait to contact us online or call us at (254) 781-4222 to learn more about how we can help you today.

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