The New Hampshire Supreme Court, in a relatively short opinion, held that an obligor’s attempted suicide does not necessarily disqualify his request for modification of child support.
In the matter of Fontaine and Dunn, Mr. Dunn and Ms. Fontaine had twin daughters. The couple was never married. In 2001, Mr. Dunn sustained a self inflicted gun shot wound to the face. This wound caused significant injury and required the reconstruction of his lower jaw. Mr. Dunn was rendered completely disabled from the injury.
Following his suicide attempt, Mr. Dunn tried to have the New Hampshire Superior Court reduce his child support amount. The Superior Court refused to do so because it found Mr. Dunn’s suicide attempt was an intentional act which left him voluntarily underemployed. The New Hampshire Supreme Court disagreed, and held that, regardless of the cause of the disability, if the court finds the party obligated to pay child support is disabled, there can be no finding of voluntary unemployment. Mr. Dunn, therefore, was entitled to seek a reduction of his child support obligation.
Andrew J. Piela is a Director at Hamblett & Kerrigan, P.A. Mr. Piela concentrates his practice in civil litigation, family law, probate and land use litigation. You can reach Attorney Piela by e-mail at [email protected].