Can I Stop Paying Child Support if I Lose My Job?

Let’s face it, jobs can come and go. Sometimes, employees are let go because the company is being taken over and reorganized or because it is downsizing. Sometimes, an employee is let go because their employer is relocating overseas or shutting down.

Other times, people lose their jobs because of a personality clash with their new boss, or because the employee does not like the way their boss is handling things in an immoral or unethical manner. Whatever the reason for a job loss, just about everybody goes through it at least once, if not multiple times throughout their careers, especially these days when it’s common for millennials to change jobs about every three years.

Noncustodial Parents & Unemployment

If you are a noncustodial parent who has been ordered to pay child support and you lose your job, your automatic reaction may be to stop paying because you don’t have any income coming in the door.

While this may seem to make sense, you do not want to stop paying child support because you lost your job. “But what if I don’t have the money to pay child support?” is a question divorce attorneys hear all the time.

It sounds counterintuitive, but you have to continue making your child support payments. The local child support agency is not concerned if you lose your job, if you become disabled, if you suffer from a severe mental illness or if you are incarcerated. You still have the legal obligation to pay child support regardless of your circumstances.

The only way you’re off the hook is if your parental rights are terminated, either voluntarily or involuntarily by the courts. Since that’s highly unlikely, what do you do if you lose your job and can’t pay your monthly child support payment?

What Do You Do Next?

As soon as you lose your job, our advice is to go back to court promptly and ask for what’s called a “downward modification” of child support. This way, your payment can be adjusted to reflect your current financial circumstances. If you delay, your child support arrears will continue accruing and they are not retroactive, so there is NO way the court can go back to the day you lost your job and reduce the amount that you owe.

Next: Can Child Support Be Terminated?

Child support cannot be included in bankruptcy. So, a noncustodial parent will owe the arrears indefinitely until he or she pays off the debt in its entirety. If there has been a significant change in your financial circumstances, act fast and petition the court to lower your monthly obligation.