Wife No Longer Earning

I recently took a job that pays a bit less than my previous job so I informed my separated wife that we would need to adjust the child support and that we could exchange income verification just so I could verify hers hadn’t changed. Her attorney sent me a message stating that my wife had started a business of her own and due to the startup nature she did not have any income currently. My question is, how could this impact me? She has a child support monthly amount too. How is she making that if she voluntarily eliminated her income? Can’t she get in trouble for that? Could I possibly be asked to pay more? If she can no longer support them could I get Primary custody and she have to pay me her support? Am I within my rights to ask that she documents that she has no income in a notarized letter (just as I am being asked to produce documentation) in case this is a trick of some kind?

*** Not a lawyer ***

How it affects you is basically up to the judge. It could result in you paying more. On the other hand, it’s possible that she could still be expected to provide support based on her previous income (or based on minimum wage), especially if the judge decides she lowered her income for the purpose of reducing her child support obligation. Also, dealing with self-employment in these matters seems to be a bit tricky since it’s a lot easier to hide income than it is with a traditional job. I’d certainly be hesitant to take her word for zero income, although I don’t know what recourse you might have.

As for using her non-income to get primary custody, my guess is “probably not”; the model generally seems to be that if the custodial parent can’t afford to support the child then the courts prefer to make the non-custodial parent pay more rather than changing custody to the parent that can afford to support the child. I’d like to be wrong about that.

And in general, since you’re not the female my magic 8-ball says “outlook not so good”. Good luck!

I can’t imagine it could be possible that she could voluntarily walk away from her job and force me to assume all financial responsibility for the kids with no repercussions. Doesn’t she have a support amount to meet each month too? How on earth would one go about proving her intent for leaving her job?

If she left her job voluntarily to start a new job, you would be asking the court to impute income to her in the amount of her former employment. I would run the child support calculator a few different ways to see what your liability may be for support if you take her to court. I would run it with her making $0, $1256 per month (minimum wage) and whatever her former income was. I would also offer to settle based on her previous income and see where that gets you. If the number does not decrease significantly, she may be willing to take the decreased support to avoid the expense and hassle of court. If I were you, I would also be concerned that while she might not have verifiable income at this time, that she could end up making significantly more money through her new business. I would want to include a provision that she provide you with income verification in the future so if she does make enough for it to be considered a substantial change, you can recalculate the child support obligation at that time.