How Can A Job Loss Affect Child Support?

Unemployed or Underemployed Spouse & Support

A person with an obligation to pay support (child or spousal) may find themselves in involuntarily or voluntarily unemployed or under-employed status.

When you lose your job, your child support orders simply do not just go away. You will still owe the unpaid amount in arrears, which can’t be discharged in bankruptcy and usually can’t be reduced retroactively. However the court can modify your support obligation when you experience a change in your financial situation or job loss. If you are unable to pay the current child support amount due to a job loss, you may be able to secure a child support modification, which is a particular type of court order.

The law takes the obligation to pay support very seriously. The court has many powers to compel the unemployed or under-employed parent to seek and obtain employment.

If you lose your job, make less money than you used to, or become physically disabled and unable to earn an income, you need to notify the court immediately. However, simply telling the court clerk or the Child Support Division is not enough to reduce the amount of child support you owe. You must obtain an order from the judge. It is best to get a lawyer to handle your attempt to change or modify the amount of child support you owe.

Many noncustodial parents believe that if they get behind at a time when they are legitimately unable to make a child support payment, what they owe can later be reduced or discounted by the court when an explanation is given. However, if you wait to explain your changed circumstances, the court will be unable to reduce the back payments you owe. So it is very important that you notify the court immediately, provide proof of the reduction in income, and ask that your payments be reduced accordingly. If you do this, the court may temporarily or permanently reduce the amount of future payments.

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