Ask A Lawyer: Do I Have To Work Two Jobs To Support Her?


I took a second job before our divorce to get ahead on bills. I worked hard that year and pushed the hours to help generate income faster. During our divorce, this was calculated as part of my income.

When I took on the second job I thought that I would support my family and work hard so that we would have a good future. My wife who was a stay-at-home spouse divorced me.

Now, I am trapped into holding down two jobs while she still doesn’t work. How can this be equalized so that I don’t have to kill myself working 75+ hours while never seeing my kids?



Your situation is not uncommon in that many fathers are put in the position of having to balance earning a sufficient income versus having time for your children.  You do not indicate if you are paying only child support or both child and spousal support.

From your question, it is assumed your divorce judgment has been entered and a final child and/or spousal support amount determined.   Depending upon the laws of your state, you may be able to seek support modifications at any time or at limited intervals or under specific circumstances. 

Child support is generally based upon all income of the payer (usually the father), such that working more than a 40 hour per week job, investment income, or other sources of income generate more child support.  Unless the dollar amount of the child support is clearly excessive as to the needs of the child, the child support formula in your state will apply to all your eligible income, not just your base wages. 

Depending upon how soon you may seek review of the child support issue and the standards of your state as to modification of child support, you may be able to quit working two jobs such that you are only working one full-time (40 hour per week) job and have your child support reduced.  Of course, you will also have a reduction in your income. 

Spousal support is a different determination process and without more information it is unclear what may be at issue in your case.  However, if your ex-wife is able and qualified to work she should be expected to obtain employment to become self-sufficient.


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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5 comments on “Ask A Lawyer: Do I Have To Work Two Jobs To Support Her?

    My brother told me that the judge told him he needs two jobs for his child support the poor guy is going to both jobs with little to no sleep. He is gonna work him self to death does he need two jobs is it mandatory

    Michigan Statute
    As I am not licensed in Michigan, I can not give you a second opinion. However, many states look at historical employment patterns to not allow a parent to voluntarily reduce their income to avoid a child support increase assuming that once support is set based upon the lwoer income, the parent will go back to earning additional income. The law of Michigan and perspectives of the judges in your area are important factors in assessing how to proceed.

    michigan statute
    Hello, I found out she had filed, yet to be served papers. I work two jobs currently, while she for 4 months has been “Searching” for employment. I have a lawyer, but would like a second opinion if possible. Do the 40 hours apply in Michigan? Would it best to be ‘done’ with the second job before I get served?

    Two Jobs
    inthebestinterest is correct in that the Colorado statute exempts second jobs from the definition of gross income for the base child support formula, but as with most laws, there is a later provision that allows the court to deviate from the base formula to increase child support based upon all factors: “Courts may deviate from the guidelines and schedule of basic child support obligations where its application would be inequitable, unjust, or inappropriate. … These reasons may include, but are not limited to, … consistent overtime not considered in gross income under sub-subparagraph (C) of subparagraph (II) of paragraph (a) of subsection (5) of this section, or income from employment that is in addition to a full-time job or that results in the employment of the obligor more than forty hours per week or more than what would otherwise be considered to be full-time employment.”
    As with any support issue, consulting an experienced family law attorney and providing that attorney full disclosure of information will allow you to be informed as to the possibilities in a given case under the applicable laws and precedents in your area.

    Two Jobs
    By statute in Colorado, income from second jobs, above the primary job 40hrs/week, are NOT considered in child support. Check the laws in your state. Or, paint houses, cut grass, become a bartender on the side and work for cash.

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