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Ex refuses to work and live off spousal/child support. Can she be ordered to get a job?

Reseda, CA |

I have been going through a divorce for over 2 years now. Ex has a masters degree and refuses to work and has told me herself she does not want to work. I am having a hard time making ends meet and it would help a lot if she works. Can a judge order her to work? We have joint custody of our two kids 6 and 2.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. The judge should tell her to get off her behind, have you addressed this issue with a judge. What did the Judge say, I would seek an Order stepping down child and spousal support to her. Ask her to produce all the job applications filled out for the last six months.

    My name is Stephen R. Cohen and I have practiced over 38 years and can be reached at 213-819-1171. I practiced mainly in Los Angeles and Orange County, California. I am not seeking clients from existing relationships with other attorneys, and give only limited advise over the phone (the phone is primarily used to set appointments), these services do not create an attorney client relationship. I apologize for mispelling< as I am a lousy typist, My answers may offend as I do not believe in pulling punches or sugar coating the truth. Further regarding courts in other states my opinions are largely based on logic and what I think is the modern trend which is to consider the needs of the child.


  2. This is a tough situation. You should hold her accountable to seek a job by asking the court for a seek-work order. If granted, she would have to report the efforts she is making in seeking a job.

    Best,

    -Sanjay Paul, Esq.

    This is not legal advice. No attorney client relationship exists between us.


  3. You have the right to ask the court to set support based on your former spouses ability to earn, that is called imputing income to her. To maximize your potential for the court to impute income to your former spouse, you should consider asking the court to order a vocational evaluation of your wife. There is a cost to retaining such an expert to perform the evaluation, but the reduction in support may make the evaluation cost effective. The expert will conduct tests and interviews with your ex, as well as research the job market for available jobs for which your wife could qualify, prepare a report and testify in court.

    The court must also find that it is in the children's best interest that your ex work, but since you share custody that seems like a reasonable finding for the court to make.

    If you can not afford an expert, the alternative is to file for a support hearing and request the court advise your wife of her financial obligation to herself and the children, and make an order requiring her to seek employment. If she fails to comply with the courts order you would be in a position to request that the court make an order reducing your support . I recommend you see an experienced family law attorney to represent you on this issue. I hope this helps.

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