When a noncustodial parent becomes disabled because of a workplace accident, an occupational disease, a personal injury accident, or because of a disabling medical condition, and they are not able to work, it can become difficult for them to keep up with their child support payments.
If a parent starts receiving workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability (SSDI), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), does it mean they are off the hook for child support?
Parents are supposed to financially support their children, and a divorce does not change that obligation. Even if a noncustodial parent is incarcerated, is diagnosed with a mental illness, or becomes disabled, it does not mean they no longer have to support their children because that is not the case.
Can Child Support Be Reduced?
If you are a noncustodial parent and you become disabled, you can’t work, and you start receiving unemployment, workers’ compensation, SSDI benefits, or SSI, you will still be obligated to pay child support; however, your drop in income may qualify you for what is called a “downward modification.”
If your income has reduced significantly because you cannot work due to your disability, you may be entitled to a reduced child support obligation that reflects your current financial circumstances.
Under Pennsylvania law, either parent can petition the court to modify (change) their existing order at any time if they have experienced a significant change in circumstances, and in many cases, becoming disabled qualifies as a “significant change in circumstances” that warrants a reduction in a parent’s child support obligation.
Note: A parent’s obligation to support their children does not change if they become disabled or unemployed. Child support payments can be garnished from SSDI, workers’ compensation, and unemployment benefits. It cannot, however, be garnished from SSI.