Can I modify child support upon retirement?

Question:mens divorce lawyer

I am a non-custodial father. If I retire, is that considered a “change in circumstances” thus warranting a modification of child support based on my lower income?


Every state will have different guidelines and timelines for child support modifications, but typically a modification to child support is merited when there is 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.

Some questions to consider that may be taken into consideration are whether you are at full retirement age or did you retire early? If you are at full retirement age then it is more likely that your situation merits a modification to child support. The court may then consider your new gross monthly income in determining child support.

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. I suggest you seek further advice from an attorney.

Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located nationwide.


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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2 comments on “Can I modify child support upon retirement?

    Child support review
    A party seeking to modify his decree must show a substantial and continuing change of circumstances. Those circumstances may include dramatic changes in income. If you have trouble paying child support, do not wait! Consider these options:

    Motion to Reduce Child Support: If you cannot pay the current amount, consider filing a motion to reduce it. The standards and procedural requirements vary by state, but, in general, parents who genuinely cannot afford to pay (e.g., have lost a job or have significant student debt) will receive a reduced amount or a long-term payment plan. Contact an attorney in your area for information about the rules applicable to you.

    Three Year Support Review: By federal law since 1996, states receiving federal assistance must review child support orders every three years. In the state I practice in (Michigan), support payors and payees have a “one time pass” every three years to ask the Friend of the Court to review their current child support order. All they need to do is send a letter to the Friend of the Court to request it. Contact the court or child support administrator for your case to find out how your jurisdiction conducts the reviews.

    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.

    I’m paying an exorbant amount of child support $1,800.00 per month) for my 17 year old son and my ex-wife just retired with 3/4 of her income ($85,000) as pension. She will be getting another job, thus increasing her income while I’m earning $40,000 per year. Would this constitute “change of circumstances” and allow me a reason to modify my support order? My wife and I are literally going hungry and receiving assistance from American Red Cross and friends for food and gas, while my ex takes frequent trips to London. How can I make this a more fair situation? I cannot afford a lawyer and just went through a bankruptcy, etc.

    Any suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated. My ex-wife lives in Suffolk County, NY and I live in Florida.

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