Son’s status could change child support


Q: Our divorce agreement requires my ex and I to annually exchange year-end tax information and recalculate child support guidelines. This is the first year the child support amount has changed, as our eldest son has graduated from high school and is working full time. She doesn’t like that she gets less, but it seems pretty clear to me that I’m just paying the new guideline amount.

Can I just start paying the new amount?

A: Let’s start with why you think there is a change before we talk about when to do it. Does your eldest son still live at home with your ex? If so, does he earn enough money to be able to move and live independently? If not, he is not truly emancipated but rather falls into that middle ground where he works while remaining dependent on his parents for financial support. If your ex still needs to cover housing, you still need to contribute to that cost by paying child support. You may still be entitled to some discount for being over 18, but not as much as you would get if he was fully emancipated. I encourage you to carefully review the guidelines spreadsheet to ensure that your calculations accurately reflect its reality.

If he chooses to live with your ex but is fully capable of moving out and supporting himself, then you have an emancipated child for whom you no longer have a support obligation. This scenario creates a larger reduction in child support and seems to be what you would expect.

You may be considered to have a self-amending agreement if the court has approved your agreement and says you will recalculate support and start paying the new amount. However, this is not without risk. Some judges may take the position that you can only really change the amount of child support by filing a complaint with the court and getting approval for the change. Supplemental Rule 412 allows people to file a joint petition to vary child support. This is a simple and easy form that, when submitted to court, is administratively processed so that you do not have to go to court. The catch being that you and your ex will also need to file current financial statement forms with the court so that the judge has all the necessary information and, thus, your child support guidelines worksheet.

Because she doesn’t want less money, your ex may not cooperate with the joint process, and a lawyer may advise her to file a contempt suit if you unilaterally change the amount of child support without the approval of a parent. judge. A judge may conclude that you have an obligation to continue paying the old amount until a new order is entered. To be safe, file a change request and request a retroactive discount to the date you serve it.

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