If you're ordered to pay child support in a divorce, it is based on your income and ability to pay at the moment. The idea is that your wealth will likely stay at or near that level, so the payments are both fair and affordable.
Naturally, the court has no way to project exactly what is going to happen to you in the future, but we all know that life comes at you fast. Things change. Your financial future may not be as stable as you hope, and that can have a drastic impact on your ability to pay. This is especially true in high asset divorce cases, where the support payments may be substantial.
For instance, one man had a good career as a pediatrician, making a solid income for himself. When he got divorced, he was ordered to pay child support.
Unfortunately, he was then fired from the practice and lost his job. His income dropped to just $100 per month, he claims. He even had to declare bankruptcy because he could not afford the debt that he already had. Child support is not eligible for bankruptcy, though, so he fell farther and farther behind. It has changed the rest of his life.
"I'm currently at $680,000 worth of arrears, at 9 percent interest," he said in an interview. "I will never be able to get out of this hole."
As you can see, it is important to know what options you have when life changes after a divorce. Even far more minor changes than this man faced could still significantly alter your life, and you may be able to seek a modification to reflect that.