Judge Ordered Child Support Payments Recalculated

Judge Ordered Child Support Payments Recalculated

In Mercer County, a State Superior Court overturned a local judge's child support decision and ordered the judge to recalculate the father's obligation. It said that Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas R. Dobson did not address the father's intent when he accepted a lower paying job.

The mother, identified as K.A.W. and the father as S.J.W., were married in 2002 and divorced 7 years later. Their only child was born November 2005. They agreed on child support payments during the divorce settlement, but the mother filed a complaint for support a year ago, while the father filed a petition to modify the established custody arrangement, because it gave him custody only on his off days.

He works for the state Department of Corrections and had worked in the borough of Albion since 2004. He applied for a transfer to Findlay Township in May 2005, but no position opened until April 2012. He accepted the local job because it meant a shorter commute to work. But because there was no sergeant position available, he had to accept a lower rank and lower pay. This reduction meant he was bringing home $1,500 less per month.

By judicial rule, someone paying child support is not allowed to reduce his or her income to avoid paying. But this was not the case. And so it was ruled that the a child support obligation could be reduced because the parent did not voluntarily reduce his income. Judge Dobson "abused his discretion by not considering the father's intent in regard to his changing jobs," according to the opinion written by Judge John T. Bender.