Occasionally life circumstances change and either or both parents may need to modify child support.
In order to modify child support, there must be a showing of a substantial change in circumstances of either or both parents. A recent South Carolina Court of Appeals Case in April, Hawkins v Hawkins, (full text of case found here) clearly sets forth the criteria for doing so.
Father was ordered to pay child support of just over $1,000 per month to Mother. He was unemployed and had zero income and was requesting a modification on this basis. In fact Father was requesting child support from Mother because the parties were sharing equal time with the children. The court found two major problems with Father’s request.
The first problem was that about one year earlier, while he was unemployed, Father had agreed to pay the child support he was now requesting be modified. The Family Court stated that Father knew at the time he agreed to pay child support that the economic climate was such that he may very well not have a significant income in the near future.
The second issue the Court found problematic was an issue of simple fairness. Mother was a public schoolteacher. Father was re-married to Radiologist, was living in a 6000 square foot home, was supported by his wife, took vacations to exotic locations and had over one half million dollars in a 401(k).
The Court considered Father’s wife’s income, as well as his improved standard of living and his 401(k) as means to meet his child support obligation. Regardless of Father having no income, the Court found that Father could not show a substantial change in circumstances permitting him to avoid his child support obligation.