P. Reduction of Child Support; Termination of Employment

Author:Julien D. Payne - Marilyn A. Payne

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The court will not usually grant an application to reduce the child support payable under an existing order when the obligor voluntarily terminates employment, is dismissed for just cause, intentionally reduces income, pursues a less lucrative career, or returns to university to further his or her education,145unless the change of status and consequential loss of income is short-term and will ultimately result in an increased capacity to pay child support.146A reduction in support may, however, be ordered where the obligor voluntarily changes employment in a genuine attempt to improve his or her financial prospects but the change results in a diminished ability to pay.147An obligor’s forced retirement is no basis for reducing child support obligations where a lump sum retirement benefit is available to meet the obligation.148The retirement of the obligor is no basis for terminating support where the child is still in need and the obligor still has the ability to pay.149The obligor’s prospective retirement does not warrant cancellation of support payments when there is no current reduction in earnings.150The court frowns upon an obligor’s voluntary early retirement unless it is justified in the circumstances.151A voluntary mala fides reduction of income or termination of employment is no basis for reducing child support obligations and may result in income being attributed to the obligor.152However, if a change of employment is undertaken in good faith, for reasons of health, better ultimate prospects, or any other valid reason, this may be a material change of circumstances in subsequent proceedings to reduce the amount of support.153Severance pay may be taken into consideration on an application to vary an order for support.154Support in the form of medical and drug coverage obtained without additional cost from an employer may be withdrawn upon the retirement of the payor.155Although a bona fide significant decrease in the obligor’s income may justify

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a reduction in child support payments, the onus falls on the obligor to satisfy the court that the change is real and not one of choice.156A mother’s obligation to pay support payments may be reduced during maternity leave.157A reduction in the amount of child support on the basis of impecuniosity should be done only after an exhaustive scrutiny of the payor’s circumstances, to ensure that the payor has not placed other obligations before his or her obligation to the...

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