FMLA and Child support

Q: I’m in the process of a child support modification. I have an FMLA with my employer for a qualifying medical condition. It allows me to call out sick about half of my work schedule each month. Would it be enough to provide the approval letter from my company and medical department stating that I have FMLA and for how many days it covers a month? Or do I have to give what my ex is requesting and provide what the condition is and my medical notes/records for our child support modification?

A: This is a great question. While medical records are not generally relevant to child support modification cases, they can be used to show that an individual is or is not capable of earning a certain amount of gross income.

It sounds as if your medical condition is not a permanent condition and therefore the change in circumstances may not warrant a modification. Child Support modifications require a substantial and continuing change in circumstances. The Court would need to see how the medical condition limits your ability to work. If the condition is permanent or at least limits your ability to earn on a permanent basis you may be able to reduce your income for the child support calculation.

There are limitations to what your ex can ask for. The only relevant medical information/notes would be the information related to the condition that you are on leave for and are requesting the reduction for.

For Example: if you are on FMLA due to a back injury and your work in a warehouse lifting objects your medical records regarding various skin conditions would not be relevant. Those records would not need to be turned over unless you are claiming that those skin conditions further your claim to why your income should be lowered for the child support calculation.

Determining what is relevant can be difficult. While it is true that disclosure is mandatory in family court, individuals still have rights to privacy. The requested information must be relevant to the case before the Court. This means that mental health records would not be necessarily relevant in a child support case (if the person is not using those records to show why his/her income should be reduced in the calculation), whereas those same medical records could and should be relevant to a parenting time or legal decision (custody) case.

I would recommend providing the records related to the injury/condition that you are on leave for. If additional medical information is requested look to what the relevance to the request would be. If you are unable to determine what is relevant ask the party requesting the information to provide a basis for the request. If they cannot provide one or choose not to it is unlikely the Court would either.

Good luck and I hope that you can return to work soon.