I have been divorced just over three years and my ex-wife is filing for a review so that the child support can be revised upward since I make more money now. Her lawyer asked me for paystubs and tax information and I gave him what he asked for. He then gave copies of everything to my ex-wife.
I’m pretty steamed about this. I may not like it, but I wish I’d at least been asked or informed before he gave her all of my financial information. Is what the lawyer did justifiable and/or legal? Also, what are my options for reviewing the child support revision when they send it to me? I can’t afford to retain a lawyer.
Although I am licensed to practice law in Michigan, Cordell & Cordell, P.C. does have offices in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, and I strongly encourage you to consult with an attorney formally because I can only give you general information. You should not rely upon this information as creating an attorney-client relationship.
Your child support review is likely a state service that follows federal Title IV-D requirements, such as automatic child support reviews (on the court’s own initiative or at a party’s request) every few years. If so, then you and your ex-spouse are required to submit the financial information you provided to her attorney – that is the information that proves (or disproves) your income and earning potential. If you provided the information to your ex-spouse’s attorney, then the attorney could (and should have) turned it over to your ex-spouse for her review. The same would be true if your ex-spouse provided your attorney with her information.
I understand that you do not have an attorney – but that means you can, and should, act as your own attorney. If you have concerns about your ex-spouse’s financial information, request copies of it. Although most states restrict the extent you can modify your support obligations, support is usually modifiable if the payor’s financial circumstances change (e.g., if you lose your job). However, the court may impute income, such as minimum wage, or may determine that the payor is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed and impute more. The modification and imputation criteria vary by state. You should consult with an attorney in your area to discuss what options, if any, you have based on the particular orders and facts in your case.
Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell P.C. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims. Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.