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Can I require my co-parent to work certain kinds of jobs?

Say that you divorced a few years ago from your children's other parent. She has always been a high earner, making at least two times what you did. In fact, you may even have stayed at home for a while when your children were young, and that set you back a few years professionally.

When you divorced, you and your co-parent worked out your own child support and spousal maintenance agreements. Your co-parent has held up her part of the agreements. Now, however, she has quit her job and taken a lower-paying position that she says fulfills her emotionally and is less draining mentally. It does mean that she has less to contribute financially. Is this fair? Can you ask a judge to force your co-parent to get another high-paying job?

The courts will enforce many agreements

Technically speaking, many agreements when it comes to child support and spousal support are enforceable in court, especially when they involve voluntary moves such as someone quitting a job instead of losing it to termination or layoffs.

Is it a battle worth fighting?

If you and your children's needs are being met (and then perhaps some), it is worth considering whether you should let your co-parent have the relief from stress that she seems to have found. It could mean a better relationship between her and your children and more involvement. After all, if the two of you were still together, you may have supported her taking a different job if it meant fewer ulcers, all-nighters and skipped children's events.

On the other hand, if the lower-paying job leads to you and your children struggling financially, then you may want to enforce orders after all. Be advised that in return, your co-parent might also question your income-earning power. For example, since it has been a few years since the divorce, have you made the necessary moves to position yourself professionally so you no longer have to receive spousal maintenance?

In a nutshell, there can be many factors to consider. Ideally, your co-parent would have discussed matters with you before quitting so it was not a decision she made fully on her own.

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