Once a child support order is entered, it is only modifiable upon a substantial change in circumstances pursuant to 750 ILCS 5/510. The issue becomes in what circumstances is there a valid substantial change in circumstances that warrants a modification of the child support order. There are situations that are not valid changes in circumstances. For example, you quit your job for whatever reason, valid or not, or you were fired for cause, such as tardiness or other wrongful behavior that caused your termination. A judge can find that you either voluntarily lowered your income, or caused your income to be lowered out of your own fault, which resulted in a decrease in income. As such, a judge will not want to punish the other parent for your actions. If you leave your job for another position that pays lower, a judge may find that you could have stayed at the other job and earned more, and thus may not lower your child support amount, no matter how “unhappy” you were at your other job.
If the judge finds that you were laid off due to economic reasons, the judge may lower your child support amount to a reasonable amount but require that you maintain a job diary documenting all of your efforts in seeking gainful employment. The order may be temporary until you obtain a job that is to the or near the level of income previously earned. The policy behind these provisions is to prevent non-custodial parents from intentionally reducing their child support in order to avoid paying child support. The message is that if you are unhappy in your position, or you are behaving in a way that caused your unemployment, you are responsible for the consequences of your actions, not the custodial parent, and you will need to pay the same amount of child support as before.