I’m Paying Child Support, But the Custodial Parent Refuses to Work


One of the biggest disputes involved in child custody cases is the amount of money that one parent will pay in child support. The noncustodial parent is most often obligated to pay an amount of money that enables the parent who has custody of the child or children to care for those children and provide for their health and well-being.

This has been the way that court proceedings have gone on in the United States for generations. Divorce or separation is something that occurs quite regularly, meaning that the court has had to intervene to ensure that the safety and welfare of the children is protected. This is often done through a mandate of child maintenance.

When the a Child Support Situation Becomes “Unfair”

One of the most frustrating aspects of child support, which more often occurs with fathers, is that they are usually the one who is required to pay child support. While they want to raise their children, this becomes frustrating when the mother of their children is refusing to work.

Now, the obligation is on them to pay child support is even bigger. Because the burden for caring for the children falls completely onto them, they wind up paying a much larger amount of their salary for the care of the children, even actually taking care of the mother at the same time.

Truth be told, if the mother is not working, then she has no income of her own. This means that the child support provided is actually caring for her as well. That sure seems unfair.

It Is Common for the Custodial Parent to Quit Work After Receiving Child Support

This has become a big issue ever since 2005 when a case came before a judge in Wisconsin related to this exact issue. The case at hand was about an anesthesiologist by the name of Jane Chen who divorced her husband. As part of their decision, the two, who were both successful professionals, decided that custody would be shared, and each parent would pay for the expenses related to the children when they had them.

However, shortly after the divorce was granted Chen opted to stay home with the children, quitting her $400,000 a year job and placing the entire burden upon her former husband. He sued, attempting to force her to go back to work, but the court agreed that it was perfectly reasonable for her to stay home and care for the children, thus increasing the amount that he had to pay in support to over $4000 a month.

Since this case, this has become an issue that state legislatures and courts across the country have grappled with. While the welfare of the children is the primary focus of the court, there is also the issue of fairness. Is it fair for one parent to have to work while the other stays at home?

What Does Arizona Think?

In Arizona, this issue has been litigated as well. What has been determined is that it is the obligation of both parents to help provide for the welfare and support of the children. To place the burden on only one parent has been deemed as unfair, especially if there is the potential for both parents to earn money and be able to care for the children.

It has also been determined that if a parent is choosing to not work or to be underemployed, they can be “forced” to find a job that enables them to care for the children as well. This ensures that a level of fairness is attained.

However, that is not always the case. Considering that the primary purpose of child support is to ensure that the health and safety of the children is provided, the court may find that the mother’s decision to stay at home and care for the children is a perfectly rational and legitimate one.

What usually goes in this determination is factors related to costs that would be incurred by the mother returning to work. For example, if it is found that her getting a job will mean that the children will have to be taken to a daycare center each day where costs will make it prohibitive or unreasonable for her to have a job, the court may find that she has no obligation to gain employment.

Because of the costs incurred are such things as transportation, daycare costs, and additional fees that may be related to a child being cared for by someone other than the parent, it does make a situation where a mother staying at home is a perfectly logical one. The costs involved make choosing to send her back to work an unreasonable one.

What Can I Do About This?

Don’t let this deter you from taking some kind of action. You should know that Arizona law requires that both parents be responsible for the caring and welfare of their children. This can mean that in the vast majority of circumstances, the mother of your children will be required to find a job that enables her to be responsible for that obligation.

Get in touch with JacksonWhite today, and we can advise you on exactly what kind of options are available to you to help reduce the child support payments you are paying and getting the mother of your children back to work. You can meet with an attorney to discuss your circumstance and hear the different options available to you so that you can make an informed decision.

Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.

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