Promotions and Terminations: What Could Change Child Support Obligations?
When a marriage ends, there are many difficult problems to figure out. One of the most difficult is determining how much child support should be paid according to the children’s needs and the parent’s means. Once that amount is decided, it may seem as if the matter is settled until the child reaches 18. But there are many factors that can change how much support is necessary or how much can feasibly be paid.
Over the course of a child’s life, either parent may receive promotions or significant bonuses at work. They may also face job loss, severely limiting their ability to pay the full sum until they regain employment. Throughout the years after a divorce, a child support order may need to be amended. Navigating this process successfully can be difficult, requiring the aid of a skilled family law attorney to ensure all the needs of each child are adequately met.
Child Support Does Not Cover Every Expense
Parents receiving child support will be the first to tell you that it often does not feel like enough. There is no set cost of raising a child, and each circumstance is very different. A child with disabilities may experience significantly more expenses than their sibling who is able-bodied. Even the distance between houses can increase the need for more support if gas prices rise or increased traffic makes the drives longer.
Child support is meant to cover the necessities that provide a safe and healthy environment for them. A safe shelter with proper utilities, an adequate supply of food, clothing appropriate to the weather, and even reliable transportation for them are all part of what support should cover.
As costs of all these things increase, it can be difficult for the receiving parent (known as the obligee) to make ends meet. Likewise, the paying parent (known as the obligor) may feel frustrated because they see their children experiencing a decline in what the support can afford.
How A Promotion Changes Child Support Obligations
When either parent receives a promotion and pay raise at their job, it could be a reason to alter the child support agreement. It is important to remember that any change in income does not automatically change the amount of support paid. Official support orders or changes must be done through the court system.
Occasionally, parents may informally agree to change the amount of support paid as their job situations change. Many parenting relationships are strained, with regular fights over whether the amount paid is enough. A parent may attempt to hide their pay increase to avoid paying more support. The receiving parent may have evidence of more income via social media posts from their ex’s boss or colleagues or see the ex suddenly making more expensive purchases.
A parent who suspects that new income is being hidden can file for an increase in support. They will need to file a financial affidavit for their state (such as this one from Connecticut, for example) listing all their income. If the other parent wants to challenge the request for an increase, they must file the same form. Needless to say, falsifying information on the affidavit could lead to criminal charges.
Obligee Promotions and Other Income
When the obligee experiences a significant promotion with a raise, or comes into another large sum of money, the obligor is able to request a decrease in payments. Other sources of income such as the sale of property, a second job, a successful side business, an inheritance, or large lottery winnings for either parent can be cause for one party to seek a change to the child support order.
A key factor to consider before asking for an adjustment of child support is how much more money the paying parent is making. A raise of 25 cents an hour may not be worth the effort of going back to court to adjust a child support order, but a promotion with a big raise and a $10,000 bonus could. It all comes down to ensuring that the increase in pay will bring a similar increase in the quality of support for the children.
Job Loss Doesn’t Mean The End of Child Support
An increase in income means a better life for children, but what does it mean when a parent loses their job? Child support is not terminated for job loss, but it is possible for the parent to request a decrease in what they pay. Even if finding a new job is difficult or takes a long time, the parent’s duty to their children does not end.
A parent who loses employment can petition their state’s family court for a temporary adjustment of child support payments. The success of the petition will depend on a number of factors, including the reason for termination. A parent who receives unemployment insurance benefits can still pay some support, and the payments will be deducted from those benefits.
Sometimes, a parent may leave a job for a lower-paying position elsewhere, with the expectation that the new job will lead to better success. the parent can argue they left the job in good faith and request a reduction in payments.
If a parent is terminated from a job for misconduct, a court may not look favorably on a request for reduction. Even if a paying parent loses their income because of incarceration, most states consider this a voluntary lack of employment. The parent is not excused from making payments. If they cannot earn money while in prison, the payments accrue, and they will be responsible for the full amount when they are freed.
Get Help When Making Child Support Adjustments
Because every case is different and every case changes over the years as children grow, having qualified guidance is the best way to make sure parents and kids are doing what is best for everyone. To understand more about the options available and make the right decisions for your family in Louisiana, contact the law offices of Betsy A. Fischer today for a consultation.