Question: I'm an executive at one of the larger companies in Atlanta. But my salary has decreased in the last year or so. My boss at work said that top management finally realized our work product isn't that good and that we waste a lot of time at work surfing the internet and being on Facebook.
So now I want to lower my child support payment. The child support payment that I agreed to as part of the divorce is now too much to pay. Every month I barely have money left to pay all of my bills.
Don't get me wrong, my salary is still pretty high. But it's not what it used to be. So now I need to have my child support payment reduced, at least for a while.
And I do a lot for the kids that I really don't have to do. We go on a lot of trips, we have tickets to University of Georgia football games, Atlanta Braves baseball games and we go to all of the Falcons' home games. Also, the kids go to private schools; they've never set foot in a public school.
Can I stop paying the full amount of child support immediately, because I'm sure a judge will lower it? And my ex-wife doesn't even need it all. I know that she spends most of it on jewelry and getting plastic surgery and buying expensive clothes. So I'd like to lower it as soon as possible. I know my wife will fight me.
L.B. in Atlanta, GA
Answer: You must wait for a judge to make an order for the reduction of child support. You can't just do it yourself. If you do it without a judge's consent, you take the substantial risk of being punished for disobeying the order presently in place.
There needs to be a petition filed with the court requesting a modification of your child support obligation. At a hearing you need to present evidence that your income has significantly diminished, which you can do by bringing W-2's, tax returns and pay stubs, among other things.
Of course, your wife can contest what you are trying to do, and she is able to present evidence as well and try to show the court that your income has not really changed. Or, if it has changed, that you did it purposefully to get a child support reduction. Ultimately, a superior court judge will make the decision based on the evidence presented.
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