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Do I Have To Continue Paying Child Support If I Lost My Job?

Loss of income will not automatically reduce child support. Court action is necessary.

Loss of income for a parent paying child support is not unusual.  The question that then arises is whether child support will go down.  The answer is a qualified yes, child support will generally be reduced but it requires a motion for modification of child support.

Losing your job can be a very difficult time for you and your family.  Although you may hope that you are not out of work for a prolonged time, planning for an extended period of time during which you may be unemployed is very important.

Keep in mind that it can take months to get a hearing.  It is important to file the Motion to Modify Child Support right away upon a loss of income if you are to gain any relief.

In case you have lost your income, you probably do not have money to hire an attorney which can be quite expensive.  Fortunately, there are numerous resources available for folks in this situation to allow you to file the Motion to Modify on your own. We have created a list of a few good places to start on our Child Support Resources page.

Loss of Income is a Basis for Reduction of Child Support

Loss of employment is a significant change justifying a modification of child support.

If you are paying child support, according to a child support order, it is very important that you take steps to immediately modify your child support obligation as soon as you lose your job.  A change in child support requires a substantial change in circumstances.

Sudden unemployment is a “change in circumstance” that would allow you to file a Motion to Modify Child Support and ask the court to modify your child support payment.

File the Motion to Modify Child Support Immediately

Immediate filing is important since the modification of child support goes back only to the date of filing, not to the date of loss of your job.

It is very important to file the motion immediately because the modification of the child support obligation only goes back to the date of the filing of the motion.

It may be very optimistic to think that you will not be out of work for too long and wait to file the motion, but a delay may be very costly—especially if you are out of work for an extended period of time.  For example, if you delay and finally file a motion to modify after having been out of work for three months, you will still owe the child support payments for those three months of having no income.

This means that even though you cannot possibly pay at the time of the loss of income, you will owe back support.  This back support will come back to bite you later when you are finally getting back on your feet.

Unemployment Benefits Count as Income for Child Support Purposes

Unemployment benefits or any other income will be considered as income in the motion for modification of child support.

During your unemployment, the court may consider an income as any benefits you are receiving, such as unemployment benefits, and use that amount to calculate your child support obligation under your new changed circumstances.

If you do not have any unemployment benefits or other income of any kind, the court may suspend your child support obligation on a temporary basis.  In the event that you do have income of some sort, the court can substantially reduce the support obligation.

Unpaid Child Support Arrearages Mount Up

Regardless, it is very important to file a Motion to Modify Child Support because your child support obligation will continue to add up, and it may be very difficult for you to catch up on your child support payments once you do find employment again.  When you do get back to work, the court can use your new income information to modify your child support payment accordingly.

Know the Rules and Take Action

Divorce can be both a stressful and financially taxing experience for everyone involved.  Child support during difficult financial times can be particularly stressful.

It is important to take action while following the rules. Do not just stop making child support payments.  There are numerous possible consequences for such actions.

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