Depending on the circumstances of your job loss, you may be able to modify the child support order. Unless you are desperate, do not lower your payments without at least the other parent’s agreement until you get court approval.
What is Child Support?
Parents must financially support their children until they are 18 or are self-supporting. Generally, the parent with more custodial time receives child support payments from the noncustodial parent. The money must be spent for the child’s benefit.
If the parents cannot agree on how much should be paid, a judge will decide the issue. A state formula for payments considers the parents’ incomes, the number of children involved, and other factors.
Can My Payments Be Lowered If I Lose My Job?
Payments can change if a parent’s income increases or decreases. You can ask a judge to modify your child custody order if it is impossible for you to continue making the planned payments. The judge will need evidence about the facts of your job loss. You have the burden of proving through admissible evidence that a material and substantial change of circumstances occurred since the court order was signed. If a parent’s income was involuntarily reduced and it is not part of a scheme to avoid their child support obligation, a court will consider reducing the support obligation.
Job loss might not be enough to justify a modification. Child support can be collected from many sources, including unemployment benefits and severance pay. If you genuinely cannot make your payments, pay what you can and explain the situation to the other parent. Acting in good faith may help your attempt to change the child support order.
Can the Court Expect Me to Pay Child Support If My Income is Cut?
If the judge finds your evidence does not support your request, or there is evidence you got yourself fired to avoid support payments, you may be stuck making the same payments even though you are not working. The court may “impute” income and maintain your obligations.
Courts, generally, will not do this if the job loss is not your fault. But, if the court finds you are intentionally underemployed or unemployed to avoid paying support, the judge can impute additional earning capacity when calculating child support payments. It would be what you should earn if you had a full-time position in your field, given your experience level.
We Can Help You Achieve Your Goals
Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., attorneys believe that, unless the parties agree, no one should receive less child support or be made to pay more support than the law requires. One of our lawyers may obtain a modification of your support payments efficiently and for an affordable fee.
Whether you are paying or receiving child support payments, if you have questions about modifying a court order or need legal representation, book a 15-minute consultation by filling out our online form.