Divorce attorneys often hear frustrated dads upset that they have to keep paying more and more child support while the ex-wife barely works and appears to be living off the child support payments. The questions are common:
- She wants more and more of my income as I start making more money. How is this fair?
- Why is it that I have to keep working hard to pay their bills while she barely keeps a part-time job and lives off of my money?
- I thought child support was meant to provide the wife and children with a similar lifestyle they were used to during the marriage? When we lived together, they weren't used to a lifestyle since I wasn’t making the kind of money I am currently, so why am I supposed to provide it for them now?
In North Carolina, where I practice, the goal of child support is to have the children be supported as they would have been supported in an intact marriage. You are obligated to support your children throughout their life until they reach the age of emancipation, which varies from state-to-state.
In order to effectuate the goal of providing the children with what they would have received had there not been a breakup of the marriage, the courts will go back and look at modifying the child support if the non-custodial parent is earning more money. The court’s goal is not to subsidize your ex-wife, but rather your children.
If you feel that your ex-wife is decreasing her ability to provide in disregard of her parental duties, you can try to do a modification of child support in that regard. Keep in mind however, that you must offer into evidence that fact that the children’s needs have changed to warrant a modification.
All in all there is a possibility that a judge could order you to pay more child support because you have more earning potential and can better provide for your children. Had you and your ex-wife not divorced, the children would have benefited from your increase in salary.
Andrea Miller is a Staff Attorney in the Charlotte, N.C., office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C., where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Miller is licensed in the state of North Carolina. Ms. Miller received her undergraduate degree in History and her Juris Doctor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While in law school, she on the Client Counseling Team for Moot Court and became a board member. Ms. Miller also participated in UNC’s Legal Assistance Clinic whereby she helped represent indigent clients obtain legal counsel primarily in the area of domestic relations.