Going through a period of unemployment is never easy. If you’re trying to make child support payments while looking for a job, it can be especially stressful.
You may be wondering how you will pay child support while unemployed and how this will affect your existing order. A job loss doesn’t change your child support obligations.
To do that, you must file to modify your child support payments. If you’re facing this situation, it’s important to know your legal rights.
Here are the facts on unemployment and child support.
Unemployment and Child Support
If you’ve recently lost your job, you may wonder if you have to pay child support while you’re unemployed.
The answer is a definite “yes.” Your financial obligations do not change or end if your job status changes. You’re still expected to honor your child support order and pay each month.
When you miss a payment, you still owe that amount plus interest. If you get behind on your payments, you could incur additional fees or even jail time.
The courts are not favorable to someone who evades their financial responsibility to their child, whether it’s intentional or not.
Reason for Unemployment
The reason you are unemployed is important if you hope to modify your child support payments. If you left your job without another job in place, your voluntary departure prevents you from receiving a modification of your payment amount.
You can only seek a modification if your unemployment is a result of a sudden or involuntary circumstance.
Child Support Modification
If you’re unemployed and can’t make your normal child support payments, you can request an adjustment to your current child support order. The court bases new child support amounts on your ability to find a similar paying job.
They use your past employment record as a benchmark to determine your potential future earnings. The court refers to this amount as “imputed income.”
The dollar amount depends on a parent’s opportunity, ability, willingness to work, and earning capacity. This is based on skill set, education, past jobs, and other relevant information.
When the unemployed parent is seeking another job and willing to work, the court makes an educated guess regarding future salary and then sets the imputed amount. If the court finds insufficient evidence, they may impute the child support amount to minimum wage.
Each child support case is unique and based on the parents’ particular circumstances. When a non-custodial parent falls on difficult financial times, they should inform the court right away.
You cannot change the amount of child support you pay without seeking a modification. You should contact a qualified family law attorney to help you file a modification. The sooner you start the process, the better.
Child Support and Unemployment Benefits
First, if you are unemployed, find out if you qualify for unemployment benefits in your state. Be upfront about your outstanding child support payments.
If you’re eligible for unemployment benefits, the state can deduct child support payments from your benefits. If you’re ineligible for benefits because you are underemployed or avoiding employment, the court will defer to your imputed income to calculate child support payments.
The court strongly recommends that individuals with child support obligations find a job and communicate with the court while seeking employment. Once you gain employment, continue your child support payments until they can be deducted from your wages.
Your payment amount may increase to account for the time you were unemployed.
Work With the Court
If you feel your child support payments are too high for what you’re earning, don’t ignore the problem. The court will expect proof that your financial circumstances have changed and you cannot afford to pay the same amount.
It’s best to stay as current as possible on your child support payments and continue to work with the court for a resolution. Child support and child custody are typically based on what’s in the best interest of the child.
Defaulting on child support payments can have long-term consequences. It’s important to be proactive if you lose your job or find yourself unable to pay your monthly child support payment.
Get Legal Help
If you’re facing unemployment, you may find it hard to make ends meet, including paying child support. When you can no longer meet your child support obligations, it’s in your best interest to contact a qualified family law attorney as soon as possible.
A family law attorney understands the complexities of family law, child custody, and child support. Your attorney can help you file for a modification of a child support order.
No one should have to face the hardships of unemployment and the worries of providing for their child alone. Your attorney can help you understand your rights and navigate the legal process regarding paying child support while unemployed.
Find a Family Law Attorney Near You
Being unemployed is a difficult dilemma to face. When you have child support obligations to meet, it only compounds a stressful situation.
Losing your job or facing a reduction in pay does not affect a child support order. You’re expected to pay the same amount unless the court grants a modification.
Facing a loss of income and mounting child support payments can be scary and overwhelming. A family law attorney can help you understand the laws regarding unemployment and child support and help you find the best resolution for you and your child.
Don’t try to go it alone. At familyattorneysnearme.com, we can help you find a family attorney in your area or connect with others who understand what you’re going through.