Child support may be modified whenever there is a substantial and continuing change of circumstances that would result in at least a 10% change in the support obligation. What constitutes a “substantial and continuing change of circumstances” can be many different things, including a change in either party’s income. However, not every change in income will result in a modification of child support.
The court will want to know why you quit your job. If you are voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court may continue to calculate your child support obligation based on a determination of potential income. If you quit your job because you have decided to go back to school, the court may find that you are not voluntarily unemployed if your schooling is reasonably intended to result in a degree or certification within a reasonable period of time and it will result in higher income.
If you changed positions but accepted lower pay, the court may also find you are not underemployed if the employment is a good faith career choice that is not intended to deprive a child of support. Although you’re free to quit your job or change employment, child support is likely to stay the same unless the court finds that you are acting reasonably and/or in good faith, depending upon your situation.
This is not likely to be considered a sufficient reason to modify child support. Simply wishing to reduce your child support obligation is not a reason that qualifies as a good faith career change in the eyes of the court. In fact, purposely accepting a lower-paying job to reduce your support obligation could hurt you in the long run – your support obligation could stay the same even though your income has decreased.
Don’t let the above information scare you too much. There are plenty of reasons as to why a person might seek employment at a location other than their current job. Here, the court’s primary concern will be regarding your motivations for seeking alternative employment. If the court believes that your move is a good faith career change, you aren’t likely to be penalized. However, if the change looks more like an attempt to shirk your duties as a parent (i.e. a career change taken for the primary purpose of reducing a child support obligation), it’s likely to be more difficult for you.
Whether you are contemplating a major career change or going back to school, you should consider how these choices may affect your child support obligation. If you’re faced with a potential modification of child support, take the time to speak to a family law attorney. At Modern Family Law, our practice is dedicated to families and family law matters. So get in touch with us today for a no-charge consultation with one of our qualified family law attorneys.