It is true that child support orders are based off of a certain percentage of the non-custodial parent’s net income. However, that calculation does not apply in situations where the payor either quit his or her job, was fired for cause, or left a higher paying job for a lower paying job. In these situations, a judge can determine that you had the ability to continue in the higher paying job and will not punish the custodial parent for the payor’s financial decisions. However, if the payor is laid off as part of a corporate downsizing scheme, the judge may modify the payor’s child support amount.
In In re the Marriage of Chenoweth,134 Ill. App. 3d 1015 (5th Dist. 1985), the father’s unemployment resulted from a unilateral decision to quit his job. Although the trial court had modified the child support Order, the Appellate Court reversed that decision stating that the trial court erred in modifying the support Order when the father had voluntarily resigned from his position. The Court further stated that any reduction in a payor’s net income must be in good faith.
The courts have ruled similarly in cases where the payor voluntarily changes careers. In In re the Marriage of Kern, 245 Ill. App. 3d 575 (4th Dist. 1993), the Court denied a request to modify the child support order where the father had left his employment as a mechanic to attempt making a living farming. As such, a judge will scrutinize closely the circumstances surrounding the reduction in income before the judge will grant a request for a reduction or termination of child support.