Job changes do happen, and when either the payor or recipient of child support is in between jobs, they may be able to modify an existing child support order.
A child support order may be modified if any of the following circumstances exist:
1) there is an inconsistency between the amount of the existing order and the amount that would result from the application of the child support guidelines;
. . .
4) any other material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred.
However, this is not automatic, and a judge has the discretion to order that child support continue to be paid at the amount that was ordered when the since-unemployed parent was employed.
Income may be attributed where a finding has been made that either party is capable of working and is unemployed or underemployed. The Court shall consider all relevant factors including without limitation the education, training, health, past employment history of the party, and the availability of employment at the attributed income level. The Court shall also consider the age, number, needs and care of the children covered by this order. If the Court makes a determination that either party is earning less than he or she could through reasonable effort, the Court should consider potential earning capacity rather than actual earnings in making its order.
The reasoning behind this is to prevent a parent artificially reducing his or her income to minimize (or maximize) his or her child support order.
If you have any questions about child support in Massachusetts, contact the attorneys at Finn & Eaton, P.C. in Woburn and Saugus by calling 781 484-1066, or by sending an email to schedule a free initial consultation.