Child Support: What happens if I lose my job?

Mans hand giving hundred dollars to female hand

Once child support is ordered by the Court, your obligation to pay continues until the Court changes it.  In many situations, the custodial parent may be willing to fore-go payments or accept a lesser amount, but such an agreement, even if put in writing, does not alleviate your legal obligation to pay child support according to the order of the Court.  If the other parent gets mad at you, or gets tired of receiving less money, and files a contempt action, you can face severe penalties, including jail time and the suspension of your driver’s license.  Any agreement that is not submitted to the Court and incorporated into an order by the Court is not valid.

So, what do you do if you lose your job and can’t find employment, or get a job making substantially less than before?  You should immediately seek a modification of your child support obligation.  Have documentation ready to take to court showing the circumstances under which you lost your job (usually in the form of a separation notice), along with proof of what you have done to obtain new employment.  A new child support amount can be calculated based upon your current circumstances.

Parents get in trouble when circumstances change and they do nothing about it.  If you are proactive in seeking assistance from the Court, and make reasonable efforts to improve your situation, you are much less likely to suffer the severe consequences of being found in willful contempt for not paying your child support.

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