What the Rise in Gig Economy Means for Divorce
There’s no question that COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the economy and how people view work. While gigs and side jobs have always been an option, the pandemic saw a huge number of people ramp up their earning opportunities or completely change how they earn an income.
If you are pursuing a divorce and you or your partner earn money in a side hustle, you may find that some aspects of your divorce are more complicated than they are for those with conventional employment. Learn more by calling Wilkins, Bankester, Biles & Wynne at 251-336-3685.
Side Hustles Are Now the Norm
Side hustles used to be reserved for those who couldn’t make quite enough in their day job, but they have become increasingly common in recent years. Even people with thriving careers often supplement their income with a side gig.
Options vary widely and include:
- Driving for Uber, Lyft, or another rideshare company
- Delivering food for Grubhub, UberEats, Doordash, or other similar services
- Delivering goods and groceries for companies like Instacart
- Babysitting or providing nannying services
- Dog walking and pet care
- Freelancing for writers, artists, and coders
Unfortunately, multiple income streams can also complicate the divorce process. Some of the issues you may run into are detailed below.
Calculating Spousal Support and Child Support
First, it can make it incredibly difficult to come to an agreement on appropriate child support and spousal support numbers. Child support in Alabama looks at the income earned by both parents, so either parent having a fluctuating income can make it difficult to create an order that’s truly fair.
This is especially true if a side gig is one parent’s only or sole source of income. If one earner is always at risk of losing all of their income without any option for unemployment, that may change what is considered fair.
Spousal support is difficult if either spouse has a side gig. Consider a spouse who has to pay spousal support. They may claim that their gig income is unreliable and unsteady, so it should not be calculated with their regular income source for alimony purposes.
However, the receiving spouse may claim that leaving that amount out would significantly affect the order. If the receiving spouse has a side gig, the paying party may argue that they don’t actually need spousal support.
While many side gigs require you to sign up using your SSN and fly appropriate tax documents, there are some that pay cash under the table. Some restaurants and bars pay servers or bartenders cash to work occasional shifts, and babysitting is often not reported on taxes.
Unfortunately, if one party does not report a source of income, that may force the other parent to pay more in child support. There are ways that the court can prove that one spouse is earning undeclared income, so discuss this issue with your attorney as soon as possible if you think it’s an issue in your divorce.
Challenges With Child Custody and Visitation
It should come as no surprise that child custody and visitation schedules are often very difficult to work out when one or both parents engage in gig work. Children thrive on routine and a schedule, but when one parent doesn’t have a set schedule, they often struggle to provide that stability for a child.
If the non-custodial parent primarily earns money through a side gig, they may be unavailable for their visitation time if they are expected to work or pick up tasks during that time. This puts enormous stress on the custodial parent and can cause the parent-child relationship to deteriorate. For this type of arrangement to work, there generally needs to be some financial sacrifice on the part of the gig-working parent and some flexibility on the part of the custodial parent.
Find Out How Wilkins, Bankester, Biles & Wynne Can Help
Regardless of which factors make your divorce a challenge, our team is ready to help you. We’re ready to talk about your divorce and what you hope to get out of it. Call our Bay Minette office at 251-336-3685, call our Fairhope office at 251-928-1915, or send us a message online now.