Many of us, at some point, have made a job change expecting the new job to improve our lives professionally, financially and personally, only to realize just a few months later that, rather than an improvement, the new job is a financial disaster. If that happens to you, it can have many negative consequences, especially if you’re someone who owes a child support obligation. There is a little bit of good news: depending on your specific circumstances, a skilled South Florida family law attorney may be able to take evidence of your reduced income and help you get a modification of child support and a smaller monthly payment.
P.S. was a father caught in that type of situation with his child support obligation. In 2016, he was a financial advisor at a major investment firm, but decided to make a lateral move to another major investment firm. Unfortunately for P.S., a major scandal rocked his new employer just after he changed jobs. It started in the company’s banking division but, eventually, the scandal spread into the brokerage unit, according to a CNBC report from November 2016.
This was a huge problem for P.S. In the investment industry, financial advisors who change firms often bring their clients with them from the old firm to their new firm. However, due to the cloud of scandal plaguing P.S.’s new employer, he failed to persuade many of his clients to switch. As a result, he failed to hit several performance targets and that failure meant that his overall income took a significant nosedive.
Based on that decline, P.S. asked for a reduction in his child support.
The importance of proof that your income loss was ‘involuntary’
In Florida, in order for the court to award you a downward modification of child support, you first have to demonstrate that your reduction in income is involuntary. There’s a very good policy reason for this. The law doesn’t want, for example, a six-figure Miami doctor to voluntarily quit his medical job and take a new gig selling sunglasses on South Beach in order to dodge paying child support. On the other hand, a parent who suffers an involuntary layoff should not be held to the same financial responsibilities as before the job loss.
In P.S.’s case, the trial court concluded that the father’s change in income was voluntary, rather than involuntary, which meant the father was entitled to no reduction in his child support obligation. The appeals court, however, explained that this was not the correct conclusion. When looking at whether a supporting parent’s change was voluntary, the key is focusing on whether or not the decrease in the parent’s ability to pay was involuntary or voluntary, not whether or not the parent’s the job change was involuntary or voluntary.
It was true that P.S.’s job change in 2016 was completely voluntary. However, the reduction in income he suffered was the result of things totally beyond his control. The scandal at the new firm broke and became public just weeks after he changed jobs. That scandal caused P.S. to bring in many fewer clients than he expected. That shortcoming led to missed sales targets, missed bonuses and an income much smaller than he expected. In sum, the drop in P.S.’s income was a result of the firm’s scandal, which was outside his control and unknown to him when he changed jobs.
When it’s outside your control – as the forces were in P.S.’s case – then your income reduction is involuntary and potentially entitles you to a reduction in child support. If you need to get a reduction in your support obligation, you need skillful legal counsel. Count on the experienced South Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A., who have been helping Florida parents for many years, to deliver the results you need. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation today.