In this case, the husband, in a “no-fault” divorce, had agreed to child support payments of $50,000 per year, never to be less than $36,000 per year. The husband’s payments of support dropped below $36,000 a year, and the wife petitioned the lower court to find him in contempt and to raise the child support payment even above that maximum amount originally agreed.
The husband alleged that his income had decreased to such an extent that he could not make the agreed upon child support payments, even the minimum agreed to, and asked the court to reduce his child support obligation. The lower court required the husband to pay the least amount agreed to, i.e., the $36,000 per year.
The Supreme Court, in a case of first impression (that is, the question had not been decided before) ruled that while the parties should provide escalation clauses because everyone knows that a child’s expense increases over the years, (which had been the law for years), lower courts should in appropriate cases decrease, child support obligations where there had been a material change in the income of the paying party.