Child support is an important decision made during any separation or divorce process. It ensures the separating couple’s children are well provided for and taken care of until they become legal adults. Consequently, many parents worry about paying child support should they lose their job. At Alliance Law Group, we frequently have clients asking, If I don’t have a job, how do I pay child support?
Generally, you are still expected to make child support payments even if you lose your source of income. The court can base its calculations on your past or potential earning capacity. This means that you need to find a suitable option to pay child support before you fall into debt or are found in contempt of court.
Here is a review of what you should know about child support and unemployment.
Pay What You Can Afford
When some parents lose their jobs, they choose to pay whatever amount of child support they can afford. This option is better than not paying at all but should be a temporary fix. This is because paying only what you can afford could cause you to accumulate child support arrearage. You could slip into debt, be charged with contempt, or even face jail time.
Facing a contempt action comes with additional litigation costs, attorney fees, and other court fees. When added to your child support arrears, you could end up paying more than you would have if you made regular payments.
Informal Out-of-Court Agreements
If you cannot pay the expected child support amount, you could get into an informal agreement with your ex-spouse. This is a temporary out-of-court arrangement to allow lower child support payments for a specified period.
However, these agreements are not recommended as they do not supersede court orders, and are not legally binding. Your ex-spouse could still file a successful complaint action if they become dissatisfied with the arrangement. They could also turn back on the deal out of malice or if you fall into conflict.
File for Modification
Overall, the best course of action for an unemployed or underpaid parent is to file a child support modification petition. Many states offer this option to people facing a substantial change in their financial status, such as
- reduced income,
- lost job, or
- involuntary income loss.
When a modification is approved, the court recalculates your child support obligation amount. This could ultimately protect you from accumulating arrears or a contempt charge.
As child support tends to be recalculated from the filing date, it is vital to file your modification early. Doing so will ensure minimal arrearage when your obligation is finally modified.
Talk to a Family Law Attorney
Failing to meet your child support payment obligations can have serious repercussions, including fines and other penalties. Fortunately, there are other options available for parents who find themselves in this unexpected situation. You can speak to an expert attorney to find out your best legal options.
Family law can be complex. At Alliance Law, we strive to help unemployed parents understand their child support obligations and their eligibility for potential modification.
If you have any questions regarding the topic ‘If I don’t have a job how do I pay child support?’, contact our offices today to schedule a consultation with an attorney.