Understanding What To Do If You Lose Your Job And Cannot Pay Child Support

If you had a good paying job when your divorce was finalized and you were ordered to pay a good deal of money in child support, then you may not be able to make your payments if you suddenly find yourself unemployed. If you find yourself in this position, then you may want to pay less in support. This is understandable and you may be able to reduce the payments, so keep reading to understand how to go through the support reduction process without making mistakes.

Pay The Support Owed

Child support payments are ordered by the court. This means that you cannot simply stop making payments if your situation has changed, even if you do not have the money. If you do not pay, then this is a failure to obey a court order and you may be charged with contempt of court. Even if this does not happen, a warrant may be issued. You may be arrested and you will likely need to pay a fine on top of the missed child support payments. 

If you cannot pay the total amount of child support, then pay as much as you can. Also, explain to the other parent why the payment is less or late. The court will not issue a warrant until the receiving parent complains to the court. Typically, a motion of contempt will need to be filed and a court date will be set for this. If you do receive notification of the court date, then you absolutely should not skip it, even if you are in the wrong. This is when a warrant is issued. 

However, you should understand that you cannot wait until a contempt of court motion is filed before you try to resolve the issue. A reduction in payment can be made at the time of the hearing. This is a separate matter that must be discussed during a scheduled court date and you will likely be asked to pay the child support you owe or face a penalty. 

File Your Paperwork

Since you cannot deal with a reduction in child support matter at another court hearing, you will need to schedule a separate hearing to discuss the matter. You should fill out paperwork as soon as you find yourself unemployed. You will need to fill out a supplemental petition for modification of child support. File these documents with the court that issued the child support order.

You may not receive a court date right away for a judge to hear the matter. While you wait, you should make sure that you document your job search. If you are not looking for a job, then the judge can decide that you are purposely remaining unemployed for your own financial benefit. This is also the case if you turn down a job. In this case, your previous income will be used to once again determine the child support payments.