Welcome to "Lawyer Says," our new column where JC Law attorneys field real questions asked by Marylanders from various websites around the internet.
This week, our family lawyers respond to an anxious Maryland mom who's not sure how to counter her ex's deliberate pay cut to avoid child support... and who's putting off mediation until his first "lower" check comes in.
The Question: How Can I Get My Narcissist Ex to Pay Proper Child Support After Taking a Pay Cut?
My abusive Japanese husband  cheated on me with a 20 year old part time college girl working at his office (when we lived in Japan 2014-2017). He has a high profile journalist job and was assigned to work in America (Maryland) to cover Trump (2017-recent).
When I found out he'd cheated, I filed divorce (December 2018). Mind you, he's been mentally, verbally, and physically abusing me for years (on top of cheating).
A month after I file divorce, his company magically reassigns him to go back to Japan a year and a half earlier than originally planned, allowing him to break our lease (job reassignment as cited reason) and take a lower paying position (180k a year to 90k a year) to pay less child support and alimony.
On top of this, he filed an emergency custody motion to say I'm an unfit mother so he can take my kids with him. I win physical custody on February 28th, but it put me 50k in debt to fight his bogus custody battle and he skipped out in litigating child support and I'm going bankrupt.
He also has managed to delay child support mediation until after his new, smaller paycheck arrives for the month of March.
He's taken all the marital money and put it in his private bank account while I go bankrupt and get evicted.
Is there nothing I can do about this except sit around and wait for him to be ready for mediation (April 3rd)?
The Answer: Your Attorney Can File a Petition for Injunctive Relief and Prove "Deliberate Impoverishment."
So, there are a ton of factors to this question that need to be considered, not the least of which is if the Marylander filed for divorce in Maryland! Otherwise, Maryland courts would have no jurisdiction over this case.
However, let's assume that she did file in Maryland. In that case, one of the very first things that the Marylander's lawyers might do is file a "petition for injunctive relief," to keep her ex from moving what are still technically marital funds out of the account so she can support herself and their family.
They may also want to request for attorneys fees and other legal expenses to be paid from her ex, as well, to prevent the divorce proceedings from causing further drain on her limited finances.
With that emergency motion out of the way, the central crux of the Marylander's argument is the alleged pay cut.
The Marylander claims that their "narcissist" ex-husband deliberately took a 50% cut to their pay – and even left the country! – to avoid paying alimony or child support.
Now, Maryland courts generally require the non-custodial parent to pay something in support of their children in the care of the primary caretaker parent.
In this situation, the ex living in Japan would be considered non-custodial since he lost out on the emergency custody bid. This makes the Marylander the primary caretaker and thus recipient of child support to be spent on behalf of the children.
Thus, if he makes less money at the time child support is decided by the court, then he'll owe less in child support. Then, he might choose to raise his income again but still keep child support at the same rate... At least, until our intrepid Marylander files for a modification based on a material change in circumstances (that is, his raise).
But! Returning to the immediate issue at hand, the Marylander claims he took this pay cut on purpose, just to avoid paying out in child support and alimony. (The Marylander's post indicates that she may have otherwise been entitled to alimony, given her lack of access to funds now that her ex has moved "his" money into another, private account.)
This pay cut, then, might qualify as "deliberate impoverishment," which Maryland courts typically frown on. If the Marylander's legal team can prove that the ex was trying to dodge out on higher child support and alimony payments, then the court may calculate child support and alimony based on his previous – and higher – income, regardless of his current cash flow.
Of course, that would mean moving mediation to a courtroom, since the Marylander's lawyers would need to prove these allegations to a judge. Mediation often works best when both parties are playing fair, and the Marylander's ex doesn't seem to want to make compromises.
Our general disclaimer: We're lawyers, but not necessarily your lawyer, and do not represent the individual who asked this question. We're providing this information for general educational purposes based on the publicly available information provided by the anonymous Internet user. Any number of details may change how this individual's attorney may pursue this legal situation, differently from how we suppose above. If you have a similar question, then you should consult with a lawyer about your specific situation to get a "real" response!