Ask A Lawyer: Can Support Be Modified Due To New Lower Income?


I quit my job at a dealership 6 years ago to start my own business. I have been held to the income I used to make at that dealership though I make less money now. That dealership and many others are out of business now due to the industry and change in the economy. I desperately need my support modified. I live in California and I am wondering how long they can hold me to that non-existent income and what I need to do to go about modifying it.



The child support systems in most states include provisions to prevent payors (usually the Dad) from artificially reducing their income to reduce or avoid child support.  The exact provisions vary and how individual courts or judges apply the provisions also vary.  Generally, once the payor can demonstrate that the change in income is in good faith (not to avoid support, for an unreasonable purpose, or caused by the payor’s misconduct), the new income will be used to set the child support.  However, there may be other limits, such as a minimum child support amount or an imputed income based upon skills and job market. 

In your case, the issues may include how reasonable was your decision to change employment and your ability to obtain employment in other fields from which an income may be imputed.  If you are being held to an imputed income as a result of a court order, that ruling should include the explanation for basing your child support on the higher amount.  If you have not had a court hearing, you should be able to file for a modification of support with the burden on you to demonstrate that your current income and resulting child support are reasonable in light of all factors.


Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.

Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues. 

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2 comments on “Ask A Lawyer: Can Support Be Modified Due To New Lower Income?

    why would i have to put down a income when i had no income in Ga with divorce and child support? and i was going to school full time.

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