Payroll binderThis is the next post in a series discussing when a father’s child support obligations may be reduced in Las Vegas, Nevada due to a COVID-19-related reduction in income. My previous article discussed how the Clark County Family Court will view such requests. Father’s should be prepared to prove that their reduced income was a direct result of COVID-19. In the context of the pandemic, factors such as the anticipated length of a furlough, indefinite layoffs, or variable income such as tips may impact the court’s final decision. In this article, I will discuss the potential need for a father to prove that he is not purposely “underemployed” for purposes of child support obligations. Please contact my office today to speak to a fathers’ rights attorney if you need assistance.

I have previously written an article about how the concept of intentional underemployment may impact the court’s determination of child support. Under Nevada law, a person is underemployed when he or she chooses to earn a wage that is less than commensurate with their skill level.  Being voluntarily underemployed is often a tactic used by those who want to purposely reduce their income to pay as little support as possible. One is required to provide financial support for their children and, to that end, must seek meaningful employment. If the court decides that a person is underemployed, it will calculate his child support obligations based upon his potential earnings. This concept also applies to fathers who are seeking a reduction in support because they have lost their job or have reduced income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the financial impact on all parties involved, this issue can become hotly contested.

Under normal economic conditions, the underemployment analysis is fairly straightforward. The court will evaluate several factors, such as the person’s reasons for changing employment, education level, work experience, health issues, and attempts to find similar employment. Quitting a job and failing to seek alternative employment without any documented reason could be viewed as voluntary underemployment. This analysis becomes slightly different during a nationwide economic downturn, such as we are experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers may find themselves unemployed or willing to take on jobs for which they may be overqualified, simply to make ends meet. In these circumstances, a court will consider heavily whether the change in employment was voluntary or occurred due to the economic environment.

Consider the following example. A costume designer at a local show is furloughed from his job indefinitely when the shows are shut down during the pandemic. He is offered a position where he can work from home for the same salary but declines the job and seeks unemployment benefits instead. He requests a modification of his child support obligations based on his reduction in income. At his trial, his ex-wife’s attorney presents evidence from his employment file indicating that he had been given the option of continuing his salary but declined. If he is unable to provide a valid reason for his refusal, the court may decline his request and require him to continue to pay support at levels determined based on his previous salary.

If you are involved in a case where underemployment is an issue, contact my office today to speak with an experienced Las Vegas fathers’ rights attorney. Having an experienced lawyer on your side will help guide you through this complicated process. I am dedicated to representing my clients and providing the highest level of service. Please contact my office today to schedule an initial consultation.

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