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Knoxville Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Child Support > Maher v. Woodruff: How Changes in Your Financial Situation and in the Law Affect Alimony and Child Support Payments

Maher v. Woodruff: How Changes in Your Financial Situation and in the Law Affect Alimony and Child Support Payments


Many financial agreements can be negotiated, but the rules about child support in Tennessee are quite fixed.  Every successful entrepreneur knows how to talk his or her way into paying less than the sticker price, and everyone who has ever deposited a tax refund check has only been able to do so because of the IRS agreeing not to count certain parts of the worker’s income toward his or her tax obligations, but with child support, every penny counts.  Retirement benefits are just one type of income counted toward the child support obligations disputed in the Maher v. Woodruff case.  If you have questions about the child support payments the court has ordered for you and your former spouse, contact a Tennessee child support lawyer.

Facts of the Maher v. Woodruff Case 

Cheryl Maher and Joseph Woodruff, both attorneys, married in 1979.  At the time of their divorce, their son was fifteen years old and their daughter was twelve.  Woodruff was on active duty in the United States Army beginning before the marriage and ending in 1987.  He then served in the U.S. Army Reserve until 1995, when he was transferred to the Retired Reserve.  The divorce decree said that Maher was entitled to the maximum allowable share of Woodruff’s retirement benefits, as long as it did not exceed 50 percent.  Maher suffered from a mental illness that prevented her from remaining consistently employed during the marriage, and while the original divorce decree granted the parties shared custody, Maher found it difficult to care for the children on her own, and in 1999, the parties modified their agreement so that Woodruff would have full custody.  The court relieved Woodruff of his obligation to pay child support; Maher did not provide financial support to the children after they moved in with their father full time.

In the intervening sixteen years, Woodruff received notice from the Army that he was not eligible for retirement benefits.  He even had to return to military duty for a few more years in order to receive the benefits, which in fact he did.  In 2015, Maher requested a court order for Woodruff to pay her a share of the benefits.  In the court proceedings, Woodruff requested that Maher pay retroactive child support, as she had been employed after returning custody of the children to Woodruff.

The court ruled that Maher needed to pay back child support to Woodruff for all the years he had single-handedly supported the children.  It calculated the amount pursuant to the Child Support Guidelines that were in effect at the time of the ruling.  The court also ruled to award Maher a share of Woodruff’s retirement benefits.

Reach Out to Our Office Today for Help 

Child support obligations are inevitable, but determining their amount is not always simple.  A Tennessee child support lawyer can help.  Contact Patrick L. Looper in Knoxville, Tennessee for a consultation on your case.




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