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gig economy and divorce

What the Rise in Gig Economy Means for Divorce

The work landscape has changed dramatically over the last few decades. Gone are the days when you would work at the same company for 30 to 35 years, retire, and collect a pension. Now, it’s common to job-hop every few years for an income boost and new skills. Since the pandemic, work has changed even more. On top of more traditional work options, a whole range of contract jobs and side gigs have become wildly popular.

As you may imagine, this has changed how many divorces play out in court. If you’re contemplating divorce, learn more about how your side gigs could change things. When you’re ready to move forward, call Holcomb & Russell at 228-206-5843 to get started.

There’s a Lot More Pressure on Today’s Marriages

The change in work has put a lot of extra pressure and stress on married couples. Not only is it nearly impossible for most families to get by on one income but work itself is more demanding. With two spouses working, kids, and the financial pressure of modern life, it’s no wonder that side gigs have become so popular. Unfortunately, the economy that gave rise to the need for side gigs has also put so much stress on married couples that divorce is more likely.

How People Use Side Gigs

There are two ways people use side gigs. Some use them just as side income that boosts their main income. They may drive Uber a few nights per week, do a little bit of freelance writing after work, or pick up DoorDash orders when the app offers bonuses. Others use these platforms as their main source of income.

While both options do complicate divorces, it’s obviously much harder when one or both parties use side gigs as their main source of income. The very nature of gig work makes it unpredictable, and someone could earn an entire week’s worth of income in one busy night. On the flip side, you could spend an entire day available for work and earn no more than a few dollars if the demand isn’t there.

This makes it much harder to calculate spousal support and alimony. After all, maybe the high-earning partner’s income was a certain amount last year, but it’s on track to be one-third of that this year. Perhaps the busy time of year for their gig work hasn’t yet come, which makes it hard to guess how much they’ll actually earn.

Not only is it harder to calculate spousal support and child support, but it may also be harder to collect it. Since gig workers don’t get conventional paychecks from an employer, they can’t have it auto-debited.

It’s Easier to Manipulate Your Income

One of the negative side effects of the gig economy is that it is far easier to manipulate your income. This means that a spouse who should receive spousal support or child support may not, simply because their gig-working spouse is smart enough to manipulate their wages in the months leading up to divorce.

For example, you could easily claim that you spent just as much time logged onto Uber as you always do, but your income is half of what it was. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true—an ill-intended spouse could choose not to log on in order to drive down their reported income.

What You Can Do

You should have an attorney in any divorce case, but it’s especially important when one party has gig income. This type of case can be complex, and you’ll want to work with a lawyer with extensive experience in this area. An experienced divorce attorney can figure out who is entitled to child support or spousal support while making the necessary accommodations for fluctuating income.

Discuss Your Family Law Issues with Holcomb & Russell

If you’re considering divorce or you know it’s your next step, it’s time to talk to a lawyer. The team at Holcomb & Russell is ready to find out what matters to you and help you through this difficult time. Set up a time to talk to our team now. Call us at 228-206-5843 or fill out our online form to request your free consultation.

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