My attorney has advised me that I need to quit one of my two jobs in order to fight for full custody of my children. But I can’t afford to quit since neither are high-paying and I also pay alimony to my ex. If I quit one job, is financial assistance available to me for food, medical, etc?
You need to consult an attorney in your jurisdiction as custody and support guidelines vary from state to state. Cordell & Cordell has many attorneys licensed and located in Pennsylvania who would be happy to help. I do not live or practice in Pennsylvania so I do not know if there are any programs or organizations which would offer you financial assistance. I also do not know the details of your divorce which I would need in order to tell you whether or not you should be quitting one of your jobs.
I will caution that in my jurisdiction, the decision to quit a job is a decision I discuss with my clients in depth. Although it could help your custody battle, you could end up paying support based on your earnings with two jobs as opposed to one. What was your income at the time of the divorce? Were you working two jobs at that time? Some states have ruled that a party cannot be forced to work two jobs while the other party only works one. However, some states would review whether or not you have consistently worked two jobs. If you have, then the Court could maintain the status quo. If you decide to quit a job (the situation is different if you are laid off), this voluntary decision to reduce your income could be viewed as shirking (reducing one’s earnings in order to avoid support). In this scenario, even though you are not earning the same as before, the Court would impute your earnings to that which you were earning with the two jobs.
When the circumstances have substantially changed, most states have statutes which allow the parties to come back to Court for a modification of support, custody and placement. You should consult with your attorney to determine whether or not your decision to quit one of your jobs, which would make you more available to care for your children, would have a negative impact on your support obligations.
Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.