Can retirement impact your child support obligations?

Divorce used to be the realm of younger couples. For decades, it was typically those who had been married for less than twenty years who sought to put an end to their marriages. These days, however, so-called gray divorces are more common than ever. Couples at or near the age of retirement are deciding to call it quits. Divorcing later in life can have a lot of potential consequences for spouses and their children.

If you and your spouse adopted or if there is a substantial age gap between spouses, it is possible for one spouse to be near retirement age while there are still minor children in the house. That can create a situation that is complicated for everyone. After all, retirement can become more difficult if your assets end up depleted due to a divorce. Even in cases with a lot of marital assets, divorce can leave both spouses with less than they hoped for in terms of retirement. When you combine reduced assets and no active income with financial demands like child support, there can be complications.

Child support depends on your income and on the needs of the kids

When you get divorced, generally the higher wage earner or non-custodial parent ends up paying child support. The courts look at a number of factors when deciding what amount is right. For example, they will look at the income of both parents, as well as the potential for future income. The expenses related to the children are also important, including educational, child care and medical costs. The courts will also look at the standard of living the family expects and the division of parenting time to see who will care for the children more frequently.

Many times, child support is a percentage of your income. While you work, your income and thus your child support requirements, may be quite high. After you retire, however, you may need to have your child support adjusted by the courts. Thankfully, there are processes in place that make requesting a post-divorce modification a relatively straightforward process.

Why post-retirement modifications make sense

Unless you addressed your retirement accounts in a prenuptial agreement, chances are good that you and your spouse divided any retirement assets in divorce. That means you will be more dependent on your retirement income, whether through a pension or a private investment fund. With limited income, you likely can't afford the same amount of child support each month that you could while working.

The drop in income associated with your retirement should be sufficient grounds for a modification for court-ordered child support. If your ex doesn't agree with your request to lower support, the courts may still side with you.

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