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Father quit job and became custodial parent with no court orders; now wants to reduce child support he pays

Your Question:
I quit my job 5 months ago to spend more time with my 3 year old and because of work conditions relating to time with my daughter. I am paying a big amount of child support that is going to home improvements and cloths for my ex wife. Question is how can I get the child support reduced I am starting my own home base business and making little to no money. I was able to watch my daughter for the last 4 months while my ex worked (which is what I wanted more time with her) since I worked at home but she has now taken that away from me depending on what kind of mood she is in(so now we go by the court agreement which was put into affect when I worked 50-60 hours a week making alot of money. I live in the state of Penna.

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My Answer:

I think you may be pursuing a wrong path for the outcome that you want.

If your state is anything like California, it won't let you make a downward modification of child support unless you can demonstrate that your prior income is no longer possible.

But because you voluntarily quit, and because your ex-wife will point out that such jobs are still available (unless you have evidence proving otherwise), the court will side with her... regardless of your actual current income, you could make what you did a year ago. It's your choice not to.

That said, you have a change of circumstance regarding child custody. You've done the majority of caretaking during the past four months, per what you write.

You could have a shot to modify custody to reflect the actual situation, if you have clear and convincing evidence (e.g., witnesses) that shows you did 70% (or whatever) of the child's caretaking for month after month.

That leaves your ex in a pickle-- if she abruptly stops the arrangement after you file for your modification of the parenting plan, you'll point out to the court what she did as an act of bad faith. The judge may or may not care.

IF you secure new orders for the parenting plan (i.e., the court will make orders to more accurately reflect what's been going on for the past 4 months), THEN you'd have a cause to modify child support.

The court may still impute your income at your prior salary, but if your state uses custodial timeshare in its calculation of child support, getting orders for more time with your child will cause child support to go down.

Talk with an attorney about all this. Obviously, if you file and lose your action, you can kiss all that extra time good-bye. So proceed only if you're confident that you'll prevail.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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