Child Support and Employment Status

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Child support payments are normally paid out of one party’s income. When a paying party has the same income for the entirety of the support obligation, there usually will not be an issue with fluctuation. However, it is not uncommon for a person to switch jobs or have a change in income during the support obligation period. What happens to support obligations when the paying party has a change in income?

The answer to this question depends on the reason for the change in income. If a party with a support obligation voluntarily takes a lower paying job, quits a job, is fired for cause, or even changes employment status to go back to school, generally, changes will not be made to the support obligation. However, if a party experiences an involuntary decrease in income due to illness, lay-off, job elimination, or any other situation beyond the party’s control, the support obligation may be modified if the change is substantial and continuing.

In the case of seasonal employees, support orders are usually based on average yearly income. So the support payments will often remain the same throughout the year, even if most of the income is made over a matter of months. If a person with a support obligation refuses to find appropriate employment, a number of factors will be considered to find that person’s earning capacity, and this earning capacity will be used to determine the support payment due. These factors include age, education, training, work experience, earnings history, and child care responsibilities.