Child support is an important feature of divorce and parentage actions. The primary residential parents needs the financial support from the non-residential parent. The non-residential parent typically pays 20% of net income for one child, 28% for two children, 32% for three, and so on.
Often, the party paying statutory child support suffers a change of work circumstances..he or she is fired, laid off, or suffers an illness or injury that causes them to lose work. Paying on a support order then becomes impossible.
When a party paying on an order of support suffers a change in circumstances that he or she did not cause, the payor party must then file a petition to abate (interrupt) or modify the prior support order. Support orders are like runaway trains..they just keep on moving unless stopped, and it’s not enough to lose your job and hope to come to court a year later to expalin why you couldn’t pay support. The court will require that the unpaid support be paid back, even though your job loss was not your fault.
In the Marriage of Chenoweth, the court found that changes in an economic circumstance sufficient to justify modification of a child support order, must be “fortuitous in nature and not the result of deliberate action by the party seeking reduction or termination.” In Chenoweth, the non-residential parent voluntarily terminated his employment on the basis that he felt depressed at the time, although he never sought medical attention. The key word here is volunatrily.
The court held that unless good faith is shown, such voluntary change of employment would not be considered a sufficient material change to warrant modification of child support.