November 27, 2005
Case Law Development: Desire for Career Change Not Basis for Reduction in Child Support
Father quit a job to begin training as an electrician in the hopes of someday owning his own business, which reduced his yearly income by 41 percent. The Iowa Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's order reducing his child support in order to accomodate his lengthy apprenticeship, holding that Father's actions were a voluntary reduction in income, which could not provide a basis for an adjustment in child support.
In re Biertzer, 2005 Iowa App. LEXIS 1398 (November 23, 2005)
Opinion on the web at http://www.judicial.state.ia.us/appeals/opinions/20051123/05-0285.asp
(last visited November 27, 2005 bgf)
"Timothy testified that he was willing to take such a substantial cut in pay to pursue his dream to be self-employed….What troubles us about Timothy's justifications is not that we think he intended to deprive his child or burden his former wife, but that he apparently gave them no thought whatsoever. As a result of his change in income, his child support obligations were also reduced by forty-one percent, or nearly half of his obligation under the stipulation. In addition, Timothy did not appear to consider whether Jodi would be able to provide for Jordan absent his support…. Finally, though we sympathize with Timothy's desire to follow his dreams, we fear the precedent we would set if we allowed the district court's ruling with regard to his child support obligations to stand….Given the above factors, we must conclude that Timothy's loss of income was voluntary. Additionally, because his income dropped so drastically, we reluctantly conclude he acted with reckless disregard for the well being of his child. The legal terminology is harsh; we think the record shows Timothy to be a kind and loving father who is proud of his daughter. However, because his actions had such severe consequences on his child support obligations, we refuse to uphold the district court's decision to reduce his child support payments.”