In a Washington divorce, parents generally cannot escape child support obligations by being voluntarily underemployed. If the court finds the parent is underemployed for the purpose of reducing the child support obligation, the court can calculate child support based on imputed income. A Washington court recently considered whether a father was subject to imputed income because he stopped working overtime after the separation.
In her motion for child support, the wife alleged the husband was voluntarily underemployed. The trial court entered a child support order, imputing income to the husband based on past earnings. The husband appealed.
The husband argued the court erred in finding him voluntarily underemployed and in imputing his income. The husband owns and operates a commercial harvest diving business. He previously owned and operated as many as four commercial dive boats and worked as boat captain and diver until about six months before the separation. He stated he had previously worked over 80 hours per week and worked out of town for weeks at a time. He claimed he had been able to work so much during the marriage because the wife had been a stay-at-home mother and homemaker. He argued he was unable to maintain that schedule and care for his children on the shared schedule. His salary dropped from $146,884 in 2015 to $93,094 in 2016.