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Can I ask for an increase in child-support payment if ex-husbands salary has increased or household income has increased?

Westborough, MA |

3 years ago, husband asked for divorce after admitting infidelity. Got divorce....had to sell family home; couldn't afford to keep me, stay at home mom since 2002, and children in it. Living on child support and alimony in an exorbitantly expensive state, I want to know if I can request a modification to the child-support, if his salary has increased since time of divorce? Also, he is remarried to the mistress, built brand new house....enjoying a double income household....can her salary be included in the recalculation; because what would stop ex-husband from claiming limited salary, while wife makes "all the money", as an example?

Attorney Answers 6


  1. I am sorry to hear about this difficult situation. You can certainly pursue a change in child support based on the increase of income for the payor. While his spouse's income will not be considered, the child support guidelines have an exception if there is a significant difference in the standard of living in households. You should consult with a qualified family law attorney to assess your options. Good luck.

    Advice provided is of a general nature to provide guidance. Divorce law is state specific. One should always check the laws in their home jurisdiction. An attorney-client relationship is not intended or established through provided responses.


  2. Of course. Call a divorce lawyer in your area, tell him/her the story, and most likely they will file a complaint for modification. As part of filing the complaint, your lawyer will be able to obtain tax returns, bank statements and other financial documentation from your ex. Good luck!

    This is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship.


  3. Yes, you may seek a modification based upon an increase in your ex-husband's salary. Unfortunately, his new wife's income will not be included in calculating the support amount, but the court may deviate from the guidelines if there is a substantial discrepancy in the standard of living between the two spouses. I suggest you consult with a family law attorney to assess what your options are. Good luck!

    This is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The content of this site may not reflect the most current legal developments. Do not consider this site to be a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney licensed in your state or country, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of the information contained herein. I am not responsible for any errors or omission in the content of this site or for damages arising from the use of this site under any circumstances. This does not create an attorney-client relationship.


  4. You certainly should file a Complaint for Modification if your ex´s income has increased since the time of the Divorce Judgement. As correctly stated by my colleagues, your ex´s new wife´s income will not be considered in calculating a new child support order; however, you may be able to convince a court to deviate from the child support guidelines.

    Further, it appears that you may be alleging that the father is currently underemployed because of his new wife´s income. Child Support Payor´s are always required to work in a position that lives up to their earning capacity. Accordingly, if he is not earning what he should be earning based upon his experience, degrees, etc., this is certainly something that could be argued at a court hearing.

    I highly recommend retaining counsel to assist you with this case. Good luck!

    Anthony Rao

    The above response is NOT legal advice, and is NOT intended to be legal advice. No Attorney-Client relationship is created through the above answer, and any communication between us is not protected by attorney-client privilege.


  5. You can request a modification of child support. Although the standard for a change has always been a material change of circumstances, recent case law placed modification on whether there will be a difference through the child support guidelines amount. As you may know, child support is determined through the application of the child support guidelines. What you may not know is that the child support guidelines were revised as of January 1, 2009. Whether that was before your current order or after is unclear and may have an effect of the current amount. You can only attack his spouse's income if you can show that he is underemployed because of her income.

    All of this being said, his point of defense could be your alimony. Alimony reform, instituted last year, may allow him to seek a modification as a counterclaim to any modification you seek. Talk with an experienced family lawyer to review your options and potential exposure. Familiarity with the revised child support guidelines and Alimony Reform Statute will be critical to the analysis.

    Lloyd Godson www.bostonllp.com


  6. If it has been more than 3 years, you have the ability to request a modification of child support. Whether it is a good idea is a very different question. The new spouse's income is not included in the Guidelines (I have included links below). Under the new alimony statute, it may or may not be to your advantage to start court proceedings. The real kicker in the new law is G.L. c.208, s.53(c)(2), which effectively eliminates alimony whenever there is a child support order and the combined income of both parents is under $250,000.

    So you really should consult with counsel before you decide to file for a modification. You should have ready copies of your divorce agreement or judgment, copies of the financial statements you each filed at the trial or hearing, your most recent tax return and paystubs, and (if he is obligated to disclose them to you, as sometimes happens) your ex-husband's tax return.

    This message does not contain confidential information, is intended for the discussion of abstract legal issues, and does not create a co-counsel or attorney-client relationship in the absence of a written fee agreement. Do not post a reply to this message with confidential information. If you wish to communicate confidential information, you should contact me directly at karpf@vadimuslaw.com; I would be happy to offer a free consultation concerning your case.

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