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Can Child Support Be Modified After a Firing for an Inappropriate Comment?

Child support in Ohio is based, in part, on each parent’s income. Of course, an unexpected firing or decrease in work hours can sharply reduce the amount of money that a parent is earning. In these cases, state law allows for modifications to be made based on a parent’s involuntary unemployment or underemployment. However, disputes frequently arise as to whether income that a parent previously earned should continue to be counted in a child support calculation because their job loss was not involuntary.

Including imputed income in a child support calculation is done to prevent parents from intentionally avoiding work to lower their obligation. It is well established that someone who quits their job and does not intend to find a replacement should not be rewarded for their diffidence. There are situations, though, where reasonable disagreement exists as to the voluntary nature of a paying parent’s unemployment.

One such example occurred in Raymont v. Raymont, a Court of Appeals case out of Coshocton County. There, the father paying child support lost his job after making an inappropriate remark to a female co-worker. The mother sought to impute the income he was making prior to his termination in the child support determination. However, he cited several factors holding that his obligation should be adjusted downward, including:

  • Reason for the dismissal — While Mr. Raymont was clearly to blame for his firing, he did not make the offensive remark in an attempt to lose his job. He wrongly suspected that his longtime co-worker would react differently. The decision notes that this was not an instance of criminal misconduct and rejects his ex-wife’s characterization that lowering the child support rate would encourage other “sexist pigs looking for a free handout.”
  • Post-firing activity — Though Mr. Raymont had not yet found a job that matched the income he was formerly making, he did present substantial evidence of the efforts he had made to find a similar position. This included sending out hundreds of resumes and attending a job fair. Moreover, he had taken lesser-paying jobs and had increased his income substantially in the time the case was pending, so that was not consistent with a goal to decrease his child support rate.
  • Nature of the individual’s job — As a metallurgist, Mr. Raymont works in a highly specialized field where it can be difficult to find an open position. Before finding lower-paying jobs in his field, he even considered working at a call center to earn income.

Whether you are looking to change a child support order or keep it the same, Mock Law, L.P.A. in Toledo can help. You can call 567-200-3573 or contact me online 24 hours a day, seven days a week to speak with an accomplished Ohio family lawyer.