drop in salary will lower child support

            Posted on November 6, 2016 

Drop in salary will lower child support

Q.   When we divorced seven years ago, my Ex earned $1 million. I didn’t work then, but now I earn $100,000. His alimony includes paying the mortgage on my large family home. He voluntarily paid 100 percent of our children’s college.

Last year, he fell behind on his mandatory payments, which I hoped he’d catch up on. This year he stopped paying, So I filed a complaint for contempt.

He now claims he has no assets and earns $150,000. I’m worried that our youngest son, a Junior in college, will need to take out loans in order to finish college and that my mortgage won’t be paid.

My Ex wants to pay nothing for the next year and then get a credit for his prior voluntary college payments.

I just don’t think that is fair. What should I do?

A.    If you were still married, you’d both be suffering from his decline in income. When he had the money he paid those college expenses. If he didn’t you could have asked, and the court would have likely ordered him to pay most, if not all, of those expenses.

Before a judge can find your ex in contempt, you have to prove - by clear and convincing evidence - that there was a clear order which he knowingly violated. Sounds like a slam dunk right? Not so. You also need to prove that - while he is standing before the judge - he then has the ability to pay.

As to arrears, the law prevents him from getting any retroactive reduction on past payments. And, the court won’t credit his past voluntary extra payments toward either his arrears or his future payments. So the judgment should read that he owes you that money, plus interest. Then the case should be reviewed in a year to determine if he can start to make payments.

Now, because you earn $100,000 and he earns $150,000, your alimony is going to stop and the child support will drop to $12,500-$15,000. And there’ll be no order that he contribute toward your son’s college expenses.

You should sell that big house. Then use your net proceeds to buy and hopefully fully pay for a much smaller residence. Then you’d have no or at least a much smaller monthly mortgage to pay.

Try to get your ex to agree to take out loans to pay the balance of your son’s college expenses. If he can’t or won’t, your son needs to apply for loans to pay those expenses. Also, if you’ve got money left after you buy your new home, you could help pay part of the college expenses.

While seemingly unfair, he has no assets and you have a house and you’ll get some child support. So, at least you’re two steps ahead of him.

And, to paraphrase an old saying, the judge won’t order blood from a stone.