What if my ex-husband has chosen poverty as a way of life?

No, he is incorrect, for the most part. This type of situation has come up before, and in the majority of cases courts have held that "voluntary impoverishment" is not a bar to child support, that income can be imputed to a nonpaying parent who voluntarily impoverishes himself, and that imputing income does not offend First Amendment principles. He still is liable for his child support.

This example may seem quite far-fetched, but it is amazing sometimes what a parent will contrive to avoid paying child support. The sad part about these cases, is that the desire to not pay support is an attempt to hurt the other parent financially, not necessarily the child(ren).