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How is Voluntary Impoverishment Determined in Maryland Law

What does it mean to be Voluntarily Impoverished?

Maryland defines voluntary impoverishment to mean that a parent has made the "free and conscious choice, not compelled by factors beyond the parent's control, to render the parent without adequate resources."

This definition implies that a parent is voluntarily impoverished when they decide not to work or obtain income at what they are qualified to receive, so that they do not have resources to pay to support their children. 

When does the court determine if you are voluntarily impoverished?

Child support and income for a parent may be calculated based on a determination of potential income if they find that someone is voluntarily impoverished. If there is a disagreement as to whether a parent is voluntarily impoverished, the court must make a finding based on the evidence that a parent is purposefully impoverishing themselves, and if that is found the court will consider the factors outlined in Section 12-201 of the Maryland Family Law Article in determining potential income. 

The court reviews information to determine potential income including: 

  1. The parent's employment potential and possible earnings level based on the parent's
  • Age
  • physical and behavioral condition
  • education
  • special training, skills and certifications
  • literacy
  • residence
  • occupational qualifications and job skills
  • employment and earnings history
  • record of efforts to obtain and retain employment; and 
  • criminal record and other employment barriers; and 

    the employment opportunities in the community where the parent lives, including:

  • the status of the job market
  • prevailing earnings levels; and 
  • the availability of employers willing to hire the parent

2. the parent's assets;

3. the parent's actual income from all sources; and 

4. any other factor bearing on the parent's ability to obtain funds for child support

After considering and applying these conditions the court can provide an amount of income in the amount of the potential income for the parent they believe has voluntarily impoverished themselves. 

When is potential income not established?

Potential income determination is not established to a parent that is unable to work because of a physical or mental disability or a parent who is caring for a child under the age of 2 years for who the parents are jointly responsible. 

Contact a Child Support Lawyer

The law office of Jerry Williams III, LLC handles child support cases involving voluntary impoverishment of a parent.  Contact our office today either online or by calling us at (410) 415-3617.