Involuntary unemployement/child support


My soon to be ex wife left me in June’ 09. We have a signed separation agreement which includes a custody schedule for the three children. (The custody schedule says the children will spend equal time at both residences.) At the time of separation, both me and my ex were making about the same amount in terms of income. In the past month, I was involuntarily laid off from work. My severance pay runs out soon and then I will seek to qualify for unemployment insurance. I think I am now in a position where I am due child support.


  1. When using schedule B, for gross income, will my number be zero? I assume not, that I need to use whatever figure I get from the unemployment insurance. But if I don’t have that figure or won’t know it for a long time, what should I use in the meantime?

  2. What if my ex’s attorney argues that my income needs to reflect what it was in my previous job? Is that a reasonable or typical argument in a situation like this?

  3. Does involuntarily unemployment factor into a custody dispute? I have an emergency fund and there is no danger of the children being homeless or me not providing for their basic needs. If my ex’s attorney argues that being unemployed is a reason to modify the custody schedule, is that a valid argument? Does income factor into custody decisions? I have a feeling that my ex would seek primary custody for the sole reason of reducing or eliminating her child support payments.

Thanks for any advice.


Your income will include any unemployment benefits you are receiving at the time support is calculated, for now you use the amount you are receiving in severance pay.

So long as you are not voluntarily unemployed and are not depressing your income in bad faith you will not be penalized for your misfortune. You should be prepared to show evidence of a diligent job search to refute any argument your wife makes.

I do not believe your job loss can be used against you to modify custody.


Thank you for the reply Erin.

If my ex does try to modify custody, I’ve heard that such requests before the court can take a year or more. I’m told we will be sent to mandatory mediation and parenting classes and a parenting coordinator will be appointed to our case. Is this accurate?

As I mentioned, we have a separation agreement that spells out custody arrangements. If she cannot use my job loss to modify custody, what are some other typical arguments she might use to modify custody to reduce her child support payments?


If a custody action is filed many counties do have mandatory custody mediation, however parenting coordinators are not appointed in every case as they are usually pretty expensive.

Your ex can attempt to modify support due to a reduction in her income.


One more question please regarding the numbers to plug into the child support calculator:

In the separation agreement, it is agreed I will maintain health insurance for the children and be reimbursed by my ex for 1/2 of the portion I spend for the children. If I am paying Cobra premiums, is the way to figure the children’s portion like this: total premium, divided by number of people covered, multiplied by number of children covered

Is this the right way to compute the amount each of us pays for the children’s health insurance?

Thank you for the replies!


Yes, that is an appropriate calculation of the benefit cost.