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Father paying child support is no longer able to work his prior job due to physical injuries - what should he do?

Your Question:
I have been divorced for two years and am currently paying $825.00 a month in child support. I was working on a fishing boat and averaged $75,000.00 a year for the past few years. I ended up quitting in Dec, due to needing surgery on both shoulders. Counting these surgeries it was a total of 5 over the last six years.

I received a small settlement from the company,which is just about gone. I'm in the process of getting retrained as a heavy equipment operator. Which I had to get a loan for.

My question is what is the best way to get my support payments reduced.When I tried talking to my ex about it she wanted to wait until I started working again before making any changes. I hopefully will be able to find a job in July when my training is finished.

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My Answer:

You're asking for some specific legal guidance on this issue. As I tell folks, I'm not an attorney.

That said, generally if a person is able to convince a court that a certain level of income is no longer realistic, the court is obligated to use either the actual new income or a reasonably imputed income for that person.

I think with evidence of your surgeries (e.g., all the paperwork), or an affadavit from your doctor as to your physical condition no longer being able to handle your $75k fishing job, you have a good shot at showing a court that you can no longer work in such a job.

So, you would also present evidence that you're in training as a heavy equipment operator. You should show evidence that the average starting salary for such a job is $XX,000 per year. Your evidence could be print-outs from a job listing website, offers of employment you're receiving, or an affadavit from the company training you that their graduates average $XX,000 upon completion of the training.

Your ex has no incentive to reduce the money you pay her. I would just get all your paperwork and evidence together and file to modify your child support, based upon what you anticipate you'll be earning in July.

At the very least, the court should not impute any income at a level that you were previously making (due to your physical limitations), unless a heavy training operator can easily make the same amount.

Consult an attorney on this one. Investing a couple thousand dollars into an attorney to get this done right, to make your child support is more reasonable for your actual income, will help ease your future financial difficulties.


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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