Sexual Misconduct Not Enough to Prevent Child Support Reduction
Arkansas' Administrative Order No. 10, and the case law surrounding and defining it, uphold the proposition that a child support payor may not voluntarily reduce his/her income in order to avoid or reduce his/her child support obligation. In other words, if you are trying to intentionally lose your job (or get a worse job) so you can lower the amount of child support you pay, you are forewarned that Arkansas courts take a very dim view of this type of behavior/plan/strategy/weasliness.
Now along comes the Bendinelli case and a very curious question. Apparently sometime after the divorce, Mr. Bendinelli was convicted of a felony involving "sexual offenses." His new status as a sex offender, and felon, hindered his ability to find employment. He, therefore, had a reduction in income and requested a reduction in child support - which the trial court granted.
Ms. Bendinelli obviously had problems with this result and appealed. Her argument seems sound - how can my ex-husband lower child support based on the fact that he intentionally engaged in criminal behavior that resulted in his reduction in income? He sexually assaulted someone and got caught. Why should he be allowed to reduce his child support when his reduction in income is directly related to his illegal, and intentional, conduct?
The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's decision. Part of the decision states "There is certainly no evidence that he committed [the acts] for the purpose of reducing his child-support obligation." I hope the court was at least a little squeamish when they approved that sentence for the opinion. Makes me squeamish just reading it.