Family Law

Effect of Inheritance on Child Support

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In determining the amount of child support obligations, a court will examine the income levels of both parents. A parent will sometimes seek modification of the child support amount if there's been a change in income. A question arises as to whether the amount of child support should be affected by an inheritance received by a parent. Talk to an attorney about any potential changes to child support if you or the other parent receives an inheritance.

Initial Child Support Determination

The court will consider a variety of factors in determining child support. These factors include the child's needs and standard of living. Your financial situation at the time the court is determining child support will also affect how much you have to pay. If you're unemployed or on the verge of bankruptcy, your payments will be reduced or the payments you receive will be increased.

If your financial situation improves, your payments will increase or the money you receive will be reduced. Any inheritance, work bonus or salary increase you receive will improve your financial situation. You may want to attempt to quickly conclude the court's child support determination if you expect an inheritance or a large bonus. If you believe the other parent will receive a sizable inheritance in the near future, you may want to delay the conclusion of the court's child support determination. Discuss with an attorney the pros and cons of accelerating or delaying the court's child support determination based on a potential inheritance.

Modification of Child Support

A parent may seek to modify the amount of child support because of a change in circumstances. The parent has to show this change is sufficient to require a modification of child support. If a parent's income level greatly increases, this increase will have a direct bearing on increasing the support payments. Therefore, for example, if you receive a salary increase, the other parent may attempt to modify the payments.

A court may determine that a parent's post-divorce inheritance is relevant to modification considerations. The court must determine how much of the inheritance to consider for modification. Some courts may consider the entire amount and increase the support payments greatly. Other courts may only consider the income that's generated by the inheritance and not the inheritance itself. Therefore, a court may not consider a house you inherited in its modification determination. However, if you collect rent on the house, the court will consider the rent as an increase in income.

For a court to increase support payments, the parent asking for the increase usually must show a need for the greater amount. A court may determine that the parent isn't entitled to share in the other parent's inheritance if it exceeds their standard of living when they were married. However, the court may grant the increase in support payments if the initial support determination didn't provide the marital standard of living because of a lack of income at that time.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • If I am expecting an inheritance from a relative very soon, does it matter if I receive the inheritance before the initial child support determination or is it better for me to receive it after the child support determination?
  • If my ex-spouse receives a large inheritance, can I have the child support payments I receive increased for that reason alone or do I need to show a need for the increased funds?
  • If I receive a large inheritance, can I keep it private or do I have to inform the court or my ex-spouse about it?
  • What happens if my ex-spouse receives and spends a large inheritance before I can seek modification of child support?
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This article was verified by:
Jacqueline Newman | April 02, 2015
521 Fifth Avenue, 31st Floor
New York,NY
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