Can I Take a New Job and Pay Less Child Support?

The payment of child support is often a source of resentment between two parents.  The person receiving it knows that it is never enough to fully support the child's needs.  The person paying the support almost always thinks the amount they are required to pay is too high, especially if they feel the support is not going directly to the child.  As a result many child support obligors get the brilliant idea that they will just quit their job and go "flip burgers" for a living.  The logic goes that they will make less money, thus pay less child support, and "really teach my ex a lesson."  Not so fast.

Although the idea of quitting your job and reducing your income might sound like the solution to paying what one perceives as too much child support, you may find yourself in a much worse situation.  Kentucky, like several other states, recognizes the concept of being voluntarily unemployed or even under-employed.  The basics of this concept are that given one's training, education, and skills, he/she should be able to find a job making more money than he/she is currently earning.  Kentucky has done away with the requirement that it be proven that the child support obligor intended to lower his/her child support obligation when the obligor changed employment, but most courts will still take into consideration whether the person voluntarily quit their position or were laid off/downsized.

If the court determines that someone is voluntarily unemployed or under-employed, that person's child support obligation would still be calculated at what he/she was previously earning or using a figure that the court believes the person could reasonably be expected to earn.  If that person is not currently earning that figure (e.g. an engineer who has decided to work at a fast food restaurant), that person is going to start accumulating a child support arrearage very quickly or a large part of the money he/she is actually earning will be going to child support leaving that person very little for his/her own expenses.  While this may sound somewhat draconian, the family court does not appreciate it when it feels that someone is trying to work the system to avoid their obligation to one's children.

Rather than trying to scam the system (and possibly leaving you with less money to live on), it is better to pay what you are ordered to pay and maintain a close relationship with your children and a civil relationship with your ex so that you can make sure that your child is being cared for appropriately.

Photo courtesy of David Blackwell.

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