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Can child support be modified if my ex stops working?

On Thanksgiving, families across Oklahoma will be getting together the celebrate togetherness, and of course, the success of OU football. But it will also be an anniversary of sorts for Halle Berry, her husband Oliver Martinez and Berry’s ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry. On Thanksgiving 2012, Martinez and Aubry were involved in a physical altercation outside Berry’s home. The incident led to criminal charges being filed (and eventually dropped), and exacerbated an already contentious custody battle between Aubry and Berry over their daughter.

Berry and Aubry eventually settled their custody dispute, as well as their fight over child support. However, as we noted in a prior post, Berry recent filed a motion to modify the support amount based on the notion that Aubry was abusing the system and simply living off the money paid to raise their daughter.

The court has yet to rule on the matter, but the situation brings up an interesting question. Can one ask the court to reduce a child support obligation based on a person’s lack of work?

Generally speaking, family court judges will take into account substantial changes in circumstances, such as a job loss, when deciding whether to modify a support obligation. When an obligor (the person directed to pay support) has a genuine drop in income, a court may incorporate a temporary modification so that any arrears may be minimized. However, for obligors who voluntarily leave their employment, courts may base a support amount based on what the person would make due to their education level and years of work experience.

The same reason may apply to obligees (those who receive support) since support amounts are based on both parents’ incomes. If you have questions about child support modifications, an experienced family law attorney can help. 

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