Can child support be modified when I retire?


My child support order was based off income I was earning as active duty military. I retired shortly after the order was issued.

Now that I have retired, can my child support be reduced based off my lower retirement pay?


The likelihood of obtaining a modification to support or what that modification may be depends on the facts of your case and the laws in your jurisdiction.

Every state will have different guidelines and timelines for child support modifications. Typically a modification to child support is merited when there has been a substantial change in circumstances that would justify a revision.

If your income has changed because you have retired, then you certainly could petition the court to modify the amount of child support that you pay. Other circumstances that justify a modification include a change in the needs of the child and a change in the payer’s earning capacity.

There are many factors that weigh into a modification of support. You should ask yourself whether the court will view this change in your income as voluntary and appear to be an attempt to evade paying child support, especially since you obtained a new order right before retiring.

Some questions to consider that may be taken into consideration are whether you were on schedule to retire, or did you retire early? Did you retire at a young age from the military and now plan to (or should) work in the civilian workforce?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then determining what income to use for you for calculating child support may not just be based off of your retirement pay. A judge could impute income to you at what you were earning as an active military member or what you may be expected to earn in the civilian environment.


Trisha B. Festerling is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin office of Cordell & Cordell where she practices family law exclusively. Ms. Festerling’s practice is focused on men’s divorce, child support, child custody, paternity and modification. She is licensed in the state of Wisconsin. Ms. Festerling received her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice with a focus on Political Science, Magna cum Laude, from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. She received her Juris Doctor from Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

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12 comments on “Can child support be modified when I retire?

    Gentlemen,,,, STOP GETTING MARRIED !!! Im twice divorced and do you know why ? Because its a failing idea,,, 60% of marriages end in divorce,,, 60% ! That means it doesn’t work,,, anyone looking to invest money would never invest their money in something that failed 60% of the time,,, I posed the scenario to my son like this,,, I said if I told you there was a 60% chance you would lose your pension your paycheck and your future and your family by simply walking into the next room,,,, would you walk into that room? His reply was of “course not”,,, so I asked him,,, then why get married? In this country marriage has become almost a habit,,, we sometimes get married because it is a romantic thing to do,,, or because of religious reasons,,, but the bottom line is,,, it’s simply is a real bad idea,,, go ahead and live with someone,,, go ahead and make a commitment with that person,,,,but once you sign that legal document and once you involve the state,,, there is a 60% chance you will be ruined for the rest of your life,,,,so I say to you all,,,,love your woman like she has never been Loved before,,, care for your woman like she’s never been cared for before,,,, but care for yourself a little bit more and DO NOT EVER GET MARRIED !!!

    Why are father’s so screwed? Simple, spousal support masked as child support. In the state’s mind, all women are incapable of taking care of themselves. Because of this misconception, it comes down to either the ex-husband paying for the woman to survive or the state doing so through social programs such as welfare.

    Since this is the last thing any state wants, they use the legal system to force ex-husbands to continue to be walking ATM machines. Even to the extent of imprisonment for failure to do so. This is also why the mother ALWAYS gets the children. You can’t force someone to pay spousal support masked as child support if they are also caring for the children themselves.

    The lawyers know it, the judges know it, even the police know it. They are all in on it. The only answer for the next generation of men is to avoid marriage all together. Unfortunately for our society, the next generation of men are all too aware of this and intelligently see no reason to ever marry.

    Where is the logic in the current system? Is it better to remove a father from a child’s life completely by sending him to jail because he can’t pay the increasingly insane amounts of masked spousal support? Or would the child be better off with a father in their life and a little less money? Any rationale person immediately knows the answer to this question, unfortunately there is no place for rationale thought in any state’s family court system.

    Show me the money! That is their motto.

    discrimination towards men over child support
    I don’t understand the logic with child support during a 50/50 placement when dad works and mom is remarried and refuses to work so dad ends up still paying more. Dad pays for insurance, clothes, food and everything else on top of having to pay the ex. The mom is remarried with 2 other children with 2 high end vehicles and a new 100k addition to the house. Mom refuses to pay for her share and barley does anything with/for the child . She works out 3-4 hours a day and gets about $1000.00 a month for support for 26 weeks a year for basically doing nothing. She refuses to buy decent clothes so he looks stupid when he wears what she gives him. Why is there so much leniency for the moms and the dads gets raked over the coals when they work hard and sometimes are clearly the better parent. It sickens me when dads are discriminated against because they are the dad and not the mom when the dad is clearly the better parent in many situations. I am a single mom would have given anything for my kids dad to participate more in their kids lives more. This 50/50 thing is a crock at least in Wisconsin. I hear over and over this is happening to men and I don’t know why the court still stands behind a woman who takes advantage of a situation. If a man would do this he would lose custody or be called a dead beat.

    I’d have to agree on the advice. IMO, retiring from the military at an early age and then not having a plan our making an effort immediately to work seems like voluntary underemployment. If you are well under 65, you are fully capable of working. My ex is an example of someone who retired at 39 and is taking several months off from doing anything because he plans to move, but wants a modification so he can get by. My advice? You knew you were going to retire, but if you didn’t save or properly plan on something so expected, then why should the child take less support, leaving the custodial parent to fit the bill even more? I did some math, my 12 year old son costs about 1200-1300 to raise. That’s almost everything except parenting time which he lives with me 310 days of the year. That includes food, housing, utilities, clothes, incidentals and extracurricular activities. It does not include his 529 savings plan or extras. We pay 50% of travel costs and I’ve been paying all medical costs outside insurance coverage even though the order says 50%. Dad has been paying just under $700 for the last 10 years and I’ve never asked for a modification to raise even though he got paid more. I’ve done my own share of financial struggling but I considered it temporary and got back in the saddle. If I can work full time, raise a kid full time, and went to school full time to earn my BA and MA. Then a young retiree can manage to start a second career and continue to support their child. 20 year retirement is not an excuse to drop the ball. You knew your pay was going to drop 50%.

    Well thats interesting i wish my soon to be ex had your work ethic. First let me explain my case to you. I pay $700 to my previous ex wife whom works and takes great care of my daughter who is 13. I always help my ex if she needs extra money she is hard working and putd my daughter first. Now im in the process of divorcing my second wife because she took off with my son across state lines and it has cost me 15k on attorney fees just to bring her to court and fight for costidy of my son. So far she is getting $518 child support $200 in alimony, and managed to swing this infront of s judge that that is partial to women in divorce cases. Now i gross 5300 as an active duty member we were only married for a year in a half, and she is planning make minimal effort to work and just collect the child support. Im set to retire in seven months, and my pay is going to go from a gross of 5300 to 1800 a month I have every right to ask for a reduction in child support and it is a huge income change for me. There are no garuntees that im going to find job as soon as i retire and quite simply the court should force her get off her lazzy butt and work!!! Ive worked my ass off my whole career protecting this nation and this case every man that has walked the line to take of his family should dam well take a least one month off to trasition from a military to civilian life style. So i say the with a women that wants a divorce just collect childsupport and hides behind her child and takes advantage of a system that caters to women that want to suck a hard working father dry. YOUR DAM RIGHT IM GOING TO ASK FOR A CHILD SUPPORT REDUCTION WHEN YOUR PAY IS CUT BY 60% . You need to HAVE LITTLE more RESPECT FOR THE MEN AND WOMEN THAT PROCTECT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY WHILE YOU SLEEP! If your ex is lazy you have every right to be upset, but you dare put me in that catagory ive earned the right to recover from a life of selfless sacrifice and im going to be 40 when i retire.

    I disagree. There is two sides to every story. You don’t present all the facts lady. Your biased at best, or you wouldn’t be complaining. He could have equaled your assumption. Keep crying. Whiners always best the truth.
    You probably used all his vet benefits to get ahead and sat and reaped the bennies.

    Gina – I agree. I have a similar situation. I work full time, go to school to have a better life, and have my children all but 6 days a month.
    My ex retired early voluntarily. For 3 years now he has done nothing to look for a second career or even a part time job. He let his house go into foreclosure, but was able to buy a condo free and clean.
    Meanwhile he has not paid any medical bills, school expenses, extracurricular activities (1 for each child), and sees them inly 6 times a month. He does nothing with them except to tell them how they ahould be different or better. He has alienated them. He is rude, degrading, verbally, mentally, and ohysically abuse. He has jot followed any oth the court orders including but not limited to seeking psychiatric care and the court order counselor for the children fired him for being verbally aggressive during severa of their sessions.
    With all of this, the court still wants to give him more time to sort things out and do better. This has been going in 1-1/2 years. Enough is enough! Wake up judges/magistrates/attorneys and GALs. Your ambivalence will get someone hurt if not killed. Ine child has been in the hospital for self harm. The ither has HI toward the father.
    Wake up!!!

    Amen! I am sure the dad will happily take his child and then you can deal more with your career. Free up your “clear” hardships.
    (I was a single mom raised 2 sons with ZERO child support or even shared custody. Men were NOT even around on the weekends. So, suck it up. Be thankful.)
    On the flipside, I am watching my oldest son who is a wonderful father. Served our country since he graduated high school. They have been married 15 years and we watched her via Facebook be a slut. He never said anything because of his children. He retires in 2 years and now she is sucking him dry and doesn’t care. Sad that our military doesn’t help our men and women who serve. Our courts don’t. They are left with nothing.

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