Child support obligations are designed to be as fair as possible to both parents while still providing for the needs of the child.

Unfortunately, some parents just don’t like to pay up. For whatever reason, these parents — who had plenty of money prior to the divorce — will suddenly plead near poverty when it comes time to assign child support. Many of the parents that do this are self-employed or own their own business, so they often hide income through their business in some way.

So, what can you do if your ex-spouse has managed to get an unreasonably low child support order? Well, with the help of your attorney (and maybe a private investigator), you may be able to gather information that will enable you to seek a modification of the order based on inferred income.

What does inferred income mean?

Essentially, a court can take a second look at a parent’s alleged income and decide that he or she is actually hiding a substantial amount in some way. Even without exact dollar amounts, the court can use evidence that a parent has unreported income to increase his or her child support obligation.

How can you get evidence of unreported income?

1. Forensic accounting can often uncover hidden income. Your attorney may be able to subpoena your ex-spouse’s tax returns, credit card records, bank statements and other financial records to prove that his or her expenses exceed the amount of income he or she is claiming. That will force your ex-spouse to explain to the court where the extra money is coming from — or admit that his or her income was underreported.

2. Business records can also be requested and examined. If your ex-spouse has requested a business loan to expand, buy equipment or make other improvements to the business, it might be worth your while to see what he or she claimed as income on the loan applications.

3. A private investigator can often catch ex-spouses in the act of spending money they allegedly don’t have. Photos of a new car, nights out at fancy restaurants, vacations, new jewelry and more can be very convincing to a judge that there’s hidden income there.

If you believe a child support modification is in order because your ex-spouse is hiding money, find out more about your options today.