Some parents avoid paying child support by freelancing

New York is among a handful of states that are proposing to make it more difficult for non-custodial parents who work as independent contractors to avoid paying child support. The proposal would apply to residents who take on gig work.

Nationwide, around 70 percent of child support payments are collected from non-custodial parents’ paychecks. All states require employers to submit the names of new part-time and full-time hires to a database of those who must pay child support. This allows the state to order the employer to withhold child support payments from a parent’s paycheck. These laws do not apply when a business hires an independent contractor or someone who works by the gig or project. Even in states that require this, some businesses are not complying with this law.

Approximately $114 billion in unpaid child support has accumulated nationwide. Working as a contractor is one way that non-custodial parents can hide their income to avoid paying child support. Even when companies report contractors to state officials, by the time the state acts on the information, the contractor may no longer be involved with that company.

Some projections note that the number of people working gigs or freelancing continues to grow in the current economy. If custodial parents feel their ex-spouses are trying to hide income to avoid paying child support, they may wish to consult with a divorce and family law attorney. Such an attorney may investigate the former spouse’s tax returns and bank accounts. An attorney may be able to then reconcile the person’s lifestyle with this information to uncover hidden income, and a court order may be sought for the unpaid child support.