Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I am Retired?
One of the most significant decisions in later life is choosing when to retire. The decision can be even more complicated when you have child support obligations. Many people are surprised when they find out that retirement does not mean the end of their child support payments. Retiring, collecting a pension, and taking IRA withdrawals usually mean reducing your income. Unfortunately for child support payors, this reduction in income is generally considered to be voluntary.
If you are paying or owe child support, you may find that California family courts will not reduce your child support obligation based on your voluntary reduction of income. However, in some cases, the drop in income associated with your retirement can be sufficient grounds for a modification of court-ordered child support.
If the other parent does not agree with your request to lower child support, the courts may still side with you as long as you can persuade them with a strong case. As you can imagine, that will not be an easy task without experienced family law representation. A consultation with a local family law attorney can help you understand the process and different factors that might affect your case, including the likelihood of modifying your child support payments.
Factors that California Family Courts Consider
In considering whether your decision to retire will justify a reduction in child support, the first question the court will ask is whether the decision to retire was voluntary. The family courts in California want to make sure that you are not retiring only to reduce child support payments. The family court will consider your retirement to be a voluntary reduction in income if you are young and healthy enough to continue to work. On the other hand, if you are at retirement age and physically limited, you have a much stronger argument that could convince the court to order a reduction in support.
The next question is whether you are taking any steps to mitigate the loss of income you experience by retiring. The judge will want to know if you are working a second job or have found another way to supplement your pension. If you have any additional income sources, a family court can consider the supplemental income in conjunction with your pension, in determining the amount to be reduced.
In conclusion, the key is to avoid the impression that you are only retiring to avoid paying child support. To get a reduction in child support, you need a strong reason why you plan to retire (if you have not already), and you may need to mitigate your loss of income. If you are considering retiring while you are subject to a child support order, you should carefully look into the ramifications before you retire. Consider a consultation with a California family law attorney who can analyze the circumstances, the relevant law, and help you make a wise decision so that you can fully enjoy your retirement.