What gross income means in child support modification requests
When parents divorce and one is ordered by a California court to pay support for their children, he or she may feel economically overwhelmed. Sometimes, though, supporting parents may decide to avoid paying in whole or in part even though they have the means.
A good recent example is the case of a California man who lost his job in commissioned sales, took a lower-paying job and then requested a child support modification to avoid paying the original amount ordered by a court when his marriage ended. The man’s ex-wife challenged the request and alerted the appeals court that the man’s job loss was entirely his own fault.
When the couple divorced in November 2009, the man was ordered to pay support based on his reported income. He appealed early in 2010 arguing that his income had dropped; the court agreed and lowered his support obligation.
His ex-wife appealed, arguing that her ex-husband had been fired from his former employer because he had transferred clients to a competing firm to minimize his income and thus potentially get his child support obligation lowered. He also allegedly conspired with another person to secretly split commissions he had earned so that the amount would not be reported as income. The company had offered to allow the man to keep his position if he agreed to certain conditions, including paying restitution and fully admitting his transgressions against the company, but he refused.
The appellate court sided with the ex-wife and restored the original child support order. The court noted that California’s Family Code says that a court can base its child support calculation off of a parent’s earning capacity if the individual can earn more than their actual income.
This case is just one of many examples why it is important for parents to fully understand the law when dealing with child support issues.
Source: Metropolitan News-Enterprise, “Child Support Payments May be Aligned with Income from Former Job“, Dec. 2, 2014