If you lose your job, paying child support may become impossible. What you may not know is that if you can no longer pay the full amount of child support indefinitely, you can stop child support enforcement from kicking in if you follow certain legal procedures.
The first thing you need to do if you are paying child support and lose your job is notify your local child support office. Not only is this required by law, but it will also help you understand how much you owe and what enforcement actions might take place if you cannot make your payments.
Once you have done this, you can ask the court to review your order for support. Losing your job does not automatically end your child support obligations. Until the court changes your order, you are still obligated to pay the full amount, with or without a job.
To have your order modified, go to the family court in the district that issued your original order and file a modification petition. You can either visit the court in person or call to ask for it to be mailed to you. You can also complete the form online, but you will still need to print, sign and mail it. Until your support order is modified, you are still responsible to pay the full amount, so file this as soon as possible after you lose your job.
At this point, you need to make arrangements to pay your child support amount on your own. If you are going to receive unemployment benefits, the amount of your child support will be withheld from these benefits. However, between the time you lose your job and your unemployment benefits start, you will need to continue to pay your support. Sometimes, the amount you receive from unemployment is not sufficient to cover your obligation, and in these instances you must pay the difference on your own.
Losing your job does not guarantee a modification of child support payments. If you have lost your job or other significant changed circumstances requires a change in child support, contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss the best way to approach a modification.