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Man reduces commute and child support payments at the same time

Photo of Karen Lavin

Illinois commuters likely can empathize with a man who took a job closer to home because it drastically reduced the time he spent going to and from work. But that decision ultimately embroiled the man in a tricky family law case that required both a trial and an appeal.

Why? Because the man filed for a reduction in his child support obligation because the new job paid nearly $20,000 less annually than his previous job. That was a problem because the legal system generally does not allow those who owe child support to lower their child support payments by purposely getting a lower paid job. The trial court confronted with the question followed that general presumption in rejecting the man's request.

But on appeal a three-judge panel came out the other way. They noted that, while the general rule is correct, the trial court needed to consider the man's intent before ruling. Since the trial court failed to consider the man's intent, which was a considerably shorter commute rather than to reduce child support obligation, the trial court erred.

While the man's situation is hardly the classic scenario for getting a child support obligation reduced, it does highlight that Illinoisans in need of a reduction can get one.

To get a reduction, Illinoisans must show a need caused by a significant change in circumstances. Whether the need comes from a lost job, health problems, a medical disability or some other major life change, document it. If you were fired, provide evidence of the termination and your efforts to find a new job. If you are having health problems, bring in your medical bills. Give the court proof that your need is real.

Illinoisans who have gone through a serious change in circumstances do not have to despair about paying an unreasonable child support obligation. By documenting the change and petitioning the court, they can get a more manageable payment.

Source: The Herald, "Judge told to recalculate child support payments," Joe Pinchot, May 28, 2013

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