Changing Jobs During a Divorce or Custody Dispute / by Cassandra Hearn

Divorce and child custody cases are always a time of change and upheaval. Two households are being split into two, financial issues need to be sorted out to cover expenses, and child visitation schedules need to be arranged. In some situations, it may be necessary for a parent in this type of case to consider a change of employment while the litigation is still pending. Changing jobs in the middle of a custody or divorce dispute, however, can present some issues for the changing spouse, and the decision should be carefully considered.

The biggest and most obvious issue typically presented with a change in employment is the attendant change of income. If you make the voluntary decision to change jobs and the new job is a significant pay cut, this can drastically impact your financial obligations during the divorce. Your soon-to-be former spouse can argue to the court that you are "willfully underemployed," as you made the voluntary and willful decision to leave a good paying job. If your spouse is successful, this will mean that the court will look to your old income to set your financial obligations going forward. This includes both child support and spousal support. If you take that new job with a substantial pay cut, you could be making a decision that will make your financial situation untenable. If your soon-to-be former spouse is the one who voluntarily took a pay cut, or even quit his or her job, it may be necessary for you to work quickly to gather the appropriate evidence that the decision to quit was voluntary. Moreover, in some cases, you may find it necessary to subpoena employees or employment records of the other spouse's employer to prove that your spouse made the voluntary decision to leave. Getting the information of the necessary contacts within the company as soon as possible will make it easier for you later in the case to secure this type of testimony.

One valid reason to change jobs during this type of litigation would be to spend more time with the children. For example, if your current job requires you to work second shift hours, that may not make it possible to spend time with your children. You may have to switch your job or at least your hours of work in order to make a visitation schedule workable. This type of voluntary job change is seen more favorably by courts, but you should still be careful of taking a new position that drastically cuts your pay.

We have extensive experience with making the best decisions for their future during divorce and child custody litigation. Call us today at 619-800-0384 for an appointment so we can discuss your case and your future.