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Court Orders Retired Father to Pay Same Level of Child Support

Posted on in Child Support

Court Orders Retired Father to Pay Same Level of Child SupportLosing your job and being forced into retirement normally qualifies as a change of circumstances that will allow you to reduce your child support payments. The recent decision for In re Marriage of Verhines shows that a court will consider more than income to determine a parent’s child support obligation in high-income cases. The Illinois appellate court said that there were unique circumstances in this case as opposed to a normal request for child support relief.

Case Background

A 65-year-old divorced father of a teenage son initially requested a reduction of his child support payments in December 2015 after his forced termination from his previous position as an executive at a packaging company. The father was paying $3,043 per month based on his previous income but effectively entered retirement because he was unable to secure another full-time executive position at his age. A trial court reduced his child support payments to $1,700 per month, claiming that the father’s income was $78,000 per year and that he could not be expected to withdraw from his retirement benefits to maintain the same level of child support payments. He had previously taken $400,000 out of his retirement account to pay for personal expenses.

Decision Reversal

An Illinois appellate court recently overturned the trial court’s ruling and reinstated the original child support amount. The appellate court said that the trial court’s decision ignored key factors and used faulty logic:

  • The father’s $78,000 income from pension payments and dividends should have included the $83,000 he receives in annual deferred compensation and the percentage of his $400,000 retirement withdrawal that came from interest earned in the account;
  • In 2015 and 2016, the father paid for a lifestyle that was much richer than the income he claimed, including $120,000 for domestic and international travel and another $120,000 in charitable donations; and
  • The father would not be risking his financial security by withdrawing from his retirement fund to help pay for child support because it would be a small percentage of the $2.585 million he has saved.

The court concluded that this case was unusual because of the father’s age. Normally, it would be unreasonable for a parent to make early retirement withdrawals to pay child support because it may be decades before he or she expects to retire. However, the father is already near the typical age of retirement and has enough assets to maintain a luxurious lifestyle.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Attorney

When requesting a reduction in child support, a parent must prove that the financial circumstances have changed for him or herself or the other parent. A parent’s income is one component of his or her total financial resources. A Kane County divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can defend you against your co-parent’s attempts to reduce child support. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.


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