Close Menu
Orlando Family & Divorce Lawyer
Call for a Confidential Consultation Hablamos Español

Must You Pay Spousal Support To An Ex Who Refuses To Work In Orlando?


It happens more often than we would like to admit. One spouse picks up all the slack, completes household and domestic tasks, takes care of the children, and has a 40 hour job to boot, while the other spouse plays video games 24/7 or is glued to the television. They don’t contribute, and even after family therapy and an ultimatum, refused to parent equally. Now that the responsible parent has filed for divorce, their ex is seeking alimony, stating that the other spouse has supported them throughout the marriage and they have no skills, education or experience to find gainful employment. Does the supporting spouse have to pay alimony to a supported spouse who refuses to work? 

What is Voluntary Impoverishment?

Voluntary impoverishment is a legal term applicable to the spouse who intentionally fails to look for work, gets fired on purpose, or routinely quits jobs for no good reason. Even though the person might be well-educated, with accolades and in-demand skills, they would rather choose not to work. It is not the same situation as a married couple who chooses for one spouse to remain at home with the children, as being a stay-at-home parent is a full-time job. Rather, both spouses have agreed that they each need to work to improve their joint finances and family dynamic, yet the impoverished spouse refuses to do so. What’s worse, the impoverished spouse might strategically refuse work and other responsibilities in an effort to obtain alimony or spousal support after filing for divorce.

Voluntary impoverishment can be difficult to prove, and courts are reluctant to discharge a parent of their parental duties, including the payment of child support, simply because they refuse to find work. Family courts rely on several factors to award temporary, durational and permanent alimony, including non-monetary contributions to the family unit. The onus is on the supporting spouse to prove that the supported spouse has deliberately sabotaged their professional or educational endeavors and chooses to avoid employment to get out of paying child support.

How Does Refusal to Work Affect Child Support Payments? 

Even if a parent refuses to work, if the judge has ordered they pay child support to the custodial spouse, they must comply. If voluntary impoverishment has been established, the judge has the discretion to impute income upon the spouse compelled to pay child support. Fla. Stat. §

61.30(b)(1) (2021). This means the judge will look at the impoverished spouse’s previous job history, professional connections, education and prospects and generate a child support payment on potential earned income. Many judges recognize that some parents might avoid gainful employment to avoid paying child support, but ultimately an award is made for the benefit of the children and both parents have a responsibility to their children. 

Contact Orlando Divorce & Child Custody Experts at Donna Hung Law Group 

Divorce is not an easy decision to make. But when you are married to a spouse who doesn’t contribute, it often feels like you are caring for an adult child on top of all your other responsibilities. Sometimes you have to trust your gut and call it quits.  But what do you do when that spouse demands alimony despite their ability to work, or refuses to pay child support? You can hire our Orlando divorce attorneys at Donna Hung Law Group. Voluntary impoverishment is not an excuse to get out of providing for shared children or taking responsibility. Our attorneys can help you navigate a divorce action no matter what is thrown your way. We serve clients throughout Orange County and Greater Orlando. Call today to schedule a consultation.