Modification of Child Support Due to Unemployment


#1

Hello,

I currently reside in Michigan and my ex-wife, who has custodial custody of my son, lives in Florida. We have been abiding by the child support order since our divorce in 2007. Even though she had quite her job before our divorce began the court imputed the income she was making for purposes of child support. Since that time she had been going to school and has never once told me what her income was in the nearly 10 years since our divorce. Cut to January 2018. I was laid off from my job at the end of January and I am still unemployed almost four months later after applying for more than 100 different permanent and contractual positions. I am 51 years old and work in Information Technology which is rampant with age discrimination. The only income I have is from unemployment and that runs out at the end of June. The only thing I can think of doing is getting a job outside of my field to help keep food on the table and a roof over my head which would probably be at a significant loss of salary but greater than my unemployment income.

This brings me back to why I am writing. My ex-wife refuses to tell me what her current income is and has been implying that I am purposely staying unemployed so I will not have to pay the full amount of my child support. We agreed back in January that we would keep the existing agreement in place as I would probably find a job fairly quickly and just pay the percentage equivalent of what I was paying when I was working. Since my prospects are dim and I have no idea how long it will take to find work in my field I would like to file for modification. I have asked my ex to provide her income information from all sources (I believe she may have rental homes as well) but she refuses to do so.

My questions:

  1. Where can I find the official form for a child support modification? Hopefully this is online as again I am in Michigan.
  2. I don’t have money for an attorney as again I am unemployed surviving on Michigan Unemployment Insurance. The last time I was in court to file for modification the judge ridiculed me for not having an attorney. If I have to get an attorney because my ex refuses to provide her income information from all sources can I go after her for attorney fees as well?
  3. If my ex has been making significantly more than what was imputed for her 10 years ago can I go after her for paying too much in child support?

Thank you for your help.


#2

North Carolina will not have jurisdiction to modify the child support order since neither parent nor the child resides in North Carolina. Florida will likely be the state that has subject matter jurisdiction for a modification.


Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.


#3

Thank you for your reply Anna. Do you know how I can begin the process there? Do you have an office in Florida with the same great self-service information that you have in North Carolina?


#4

We are only located in NC with NC licensed attorneys. You will need to seek the advice of an attorney licensed in Florida.

Look through our Lawyer Locator tool as we have a few referrals for attorneys in Florida.


Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.


#5

I’m in a similar situation but located in NC. Lost my job in early 2015, figured I’d find a new one without too much trouble, so I continued paying CS at the amount we’d agreed to in our Separation Agreement (no court order for support). Turns out job prospects are slim in my niche field, so I opened my own small business. It’s not taken off, and my income is abysmal–easily less than 10% of what it used to be. Meanwhile, the ex’s income has probably tripled (and likely now exceeds mine) since our Agreement was executed.

I suspect an adjustment would end up having HER pay ME. I’ve requested mediation to adjust CS (as specified in the Agreement). She’s been unresponsive. Options?


#6

If your separation agreement states that any modifications to child support first require mediation before initiating a court case, then you should make your request to schedule and attend mediation clear to her, and perhaps send a formal letter with the request, with a deadline to respond back to you.

If she fails to respond, then you can let you know you intend to filing a breach of contract lawsuit against her for failing to comply with the mediation requirement in the separation agreement. The threat of a breach of contract lawsuit will often be enough to make the other party comply.


Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.


#7

Hello, I have some follow-up questions related to my original post. I ended up contacting the Clerk of the Court in the county in which my ex-wife lives in Florida and they could find no trace of my case when I gave them my name, my ex’s name, and my case number. The Clerk of the Court stated I would need to file in NC in order to modify my child support. Thus, I followed the instructions to apply for modification for child support in NC based on the instructions I received from the Clerk of the Court in Charlotte (three copies of the modification form sent to them and they would populate the court date and send a form back to me and my ex). I have received the form back with a court date in August. As of this writing my unemployment benefits have now been completely used up and I still have no job offers. I am still applying for permanent and contract work on a daily basis but as of yet I have no job offers. I now have no choice but to take a job even if it means a minimum wage job just so I can bring in something and make up for the loss of my unemployment benefits.

Would you please help me through the following questions?

  1. Will I be chastised by the judge at my modification hearing for not having an attorney? As I mentioned my situation is worse now than it was the last time I wrote for advice as I have no income accept from my wife’s employment and it is not enough for the two of us to survive on let alone pay for an attorney. I can almost guarantee that my ex will have an attorney present and will probably play the victim and seek attorney costs from me (as she did the first time I tried for modification back in 2012).
  2. If an attorney is required would there be any way that I could find an attorney that would work on a pro-bono basis?
  3. What can I expect in my modification for support hearing? Will the judge expect that I have already computed what I believe my child support should be and bring my already computed paperwork? As I mentioned my ex refuses to tell me what her income is so I can only guess what her income maybe.
  4. Would there be a possibility that I could reclaim any previous child support from prior years (overpayment) if my ex had gotten a job and had increased her income significantly but never told me? I always thought she was suppressing her income as she was always going to school every time I asked but appears to have graduated. I believe she maybe a Physicians Assistant now but again she has never told me what she does or how much she makes.
  5. It is also stipulated in the court order that I would pay for medical insurance which we have been doing under my wife’s insurance. Now that my ex is working I am sure she has health insurance and can easily add him to her insurance. Will these additional non-income items be discussed or included for the purposes of support be discussed?
  6. Will a decision be made as to a support amount during the modification hearing or will this just be an introduction and the judge will setup a follow-up after reviewing documents, etc?

Thank you in advance.


#8
  1. No, you will not be treated any differently by the judge if you do not have a lawyer. You have the right to represent yourself.

  2. An attorney is not required. You can ask attorneys if they are willing to take on your case pro bono or at a reduced rate.
    Though you would represent yourself in the court proceedings you can get access to a library of legal forms and communicate with an attorney through our Rosen Online Service. This service only costs $199/month, and would be a great resource for you to handle your modification case without spending thousands of dollars retaining an attorney.

  3. You will not be expected to have already calculated what child support should be. You should be prepared to prove your gross income, prove that you are not unemployed in bad faith, and prove any expenses that you have for the children such as health insurance or work-related childcare.

  4. No, you cannot recoup prior child support payments made pursuant to a court order.

  5. You can show to the judge that you do not have health insurance accessible to you at a reasonable cost but that your ex does. The availability of health insurance and it’s cost to each parent is relevant in any child support hearing.

  6. It depends on the judge - the judge could make a decision at the conclusion of the trial or he/she could render his/her decision at a later date.


Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.


#9

Thank you Anna.

I know my ex received my request for child support modification with the modification date filled in by the court. She has also acknowledged it through email. I have requested at least twice this past month for her income information and she has refused to provide it (still). Today I received an email from my ex that she has no intention of being at the modification hearing as I am not employed and based on the child support calculator on the Rosen.com website it shows my share of support to be zero which includes 100 for health insurance as my spouse is covering my son on her insurance.

Per her email she states, “Live with your pride and enjoy life to the fullest. I am done here.” I am not a divorce attorney but to me this seems pretty clear that she has no desire to share her income with me or participate in the modification hearing or any others in the future for that matter. How should I proceed with the modification hearing knowing she will not be there and she refuses to tell me her income information.


#10

You should proceed as normal since you are the party that filed the motion. You should be prepared to present your income to the judge and your basis for the modification motion (you have to show a substantial change in circumstances affecting the wellbeing of the children). The judge may be able to order her to appear in court and/or produce her income documents.


Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.


#11

Thank you for the reply Anna.

Since it is evident that my ex has no intention of telling me what her income is and that she does not want to be a part of the modification process (obviously because she has much more money than she cares to tell anyone) can I change my motion to ‘Decreased’ my child support to a motion to ‘Terminated’ my support? Or will a new motion and notice for modification need to be filed specifically for the termination?

Thanks again.


#12

You should file a new motion but seek to set it on the same court date as the motion you have already filed.


Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.