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How some parents use the gig economy to hide income

In California, a growing number of workers are turning to the gig economy as a supplementary or sole source of income. As this new economy rapidly expands, problems have mounted for the collection of child support.

Up to 70 percent of child support orders are enforced by income withholding orders. The states send these orders to the employers of the parents who are supposed to pay, and the child support is taken directly from their paychecks. When workers instead perform contract or gig work, it may be harder for the child support enforcement authorities to figure out where they are working. Some people are using the gig economy as a way to hide their income so that they can evade paying child support.

States depend on companies to help them to collect child support payments. While California requires that online platforms such as Uber and Lift report newly hired contract employees, the platforms do not always comply. Another problem is that some workers have moved on to new jobs by the time the state identifies the platforms for which they have worked.

Enforcing a child support order can be difficult when a parent is attempting to hide his or her income. Experienced family lawyers might be able to uncover the parents' income sources through careful investigations. They may request bank statements and tax returns from the non-paying parents and compare the deposits with the amounts that were claimed on the returns. They may also ask for records from online payment processors such as Paypal and others to try to track deposits from gig work. Social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter may be a goldmine for attorneys. Many people boast about expensive new purchases and vacations. When they do, the lawyers may use them as evidence that the parents have hidden resources.

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