The Impact of a Career Change on Alimony and Child Support Decisions
Spousal support and child support are significant financial obligations, but do they mean that you can’t ever pivot and change career paths? A career change always comes with risks, and it’s important to know whether or not you’ll be on the hook for support payments.
On the flip side, perhaps you receive child support or spousal support, and your ex is contemplating a career change. You know that a huge decrease in payments would impact your quality of life—what does a career change mean for you?
Learn more about what a new career means for support obligations, and if you need more specific answers for your unique situation, call Kirk Drennan Law at 205-953-1424.
Significant Career Changes Come with Sacrifice
Changing course in your career is stressful, and it’s never a guaranteed success. Sacrifice is inevitable, often coming in the form of fewer nights out, less shopping, and eating more at home until your earning level hits the same level you achieved in your last field.
However, since you have other people depending on you—an ex-spouse and children—that means that even more sacrifice may be necessary.
Spousal and Child Support Obligations May Not Change
You should never assume that your child or spousal support payments will go down as a result of a career change. The court strives to protect the rights of everyone involved, and in this situation, the ex-spouse and children have a right to the financial support ordered in the divorce. If someone chooses to earn less in order to pursue a more meaningful or interesting career path, that should not negatively affect the children or ex-spouse depending on that income.
The court actually has specific guidelines to address payers who willingly take a pay cut, often to get out of spousal support or child support. Payments are then based on the payer’s imputed income, which is what they could be earning if they worked at their potential.
For example: imagine a parent who earns $70,000 per year and pays child support. They take a less stressful job that pays $30,000 per year and file for a child support modification. The court may determine that the child is still entitled to the same level of financial support, despite the parent’s choice to earn less. The court can then order the payer to continue making the same payments.
Your Role in the Career Change Matters
There are shades of gray in this topic and few black-and-white answers. For example, why did the payer change careers?
If the payer just wanted a change of pace or wanted to explore a lifelong passion, the court may be less willing to decrease their support payments. However, if the payer’s industry undergoes a massive overhaul that eliminates their entire career, they really have no choice but to change careers. In that case, a change in payments may be more likely.
Weighing the Benefits of a New Career Path
If you are the payer interested in a career change, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before committing to anything. If it’s your personal choice to pivot in your career, it’s likely that your support payments will not change. That may mean making hefty sacrifices in other areas of your life so you can afford both a pay cut and your ongoing support payments. That doesn’t mean that a career change is impossible—just that it may take extra work.
It’s also important to seek legal advice at this stage. Even if it seems likely that your payments won’t change, it never hurts to talk to an attorney about your options. If your new career path will benefit you and your children down the road, it may be in their best interest for you to change paths now.
Reach Out to Kirk Drennan Law to Explore Your Options
Child support and spousal support modifications can be complicated, but it’s easier with the right legal team beside you. Let Kirk Drennan Law support you through this process. Contact us online or give us a call at 205-953-1424 to set up a consultation with us at your earliest convenience.
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