What can you do if you can’t pay your child support?

On Behalf of | Feb 25, 2023 | Family Law |

Life is very uncertain, and the current economic climate has played havoc with a lot of people’s finances. Maybe you’re a victim of one of the massive layoffs in the tech field, or maybe your employer was a small business that suddenly closed its doors.

Either way, you know you’re going to have trouble paying your child support, so what do you do? Here are some tips:

Talk to your co-parent about the situation

Let’s be very clear about this: Modifying a child support order is not a self-help option. Your child’s other parent has no control over the order, so they have no authority to forgive you of your obligation. That’s entirely in the court’s hands.

So, why should you talk to your co-parent before you talk to anybody else? First, they need to know what to expect so they can adjust their budget. That’s simply a proactive way to show that you’re committed to your child’s well-being and that you’re conscious of the effect that your inability to pay has on your co-parent, too.

An open dialogue can keep the peace while letting the situation come as a surprise could lead to a formal complaint to the court before you have a chance to ask for a modification.

Petition the court for a modification

This is an absolute must-do, if you want to avoid serious civil (and possibly criminal) sanctions against you for non-payment of support, including the loss of your driver’s license, a contempt of court citation and other punishments.

Your petition for modification of support will allow you to formally ask the court to change the order to something more reasonable for your situation. (It’s important to note that the court rarely orders “no support,” although they may do so in some exceptional situations.) To grant your request, the court is generally going to want evidence that you’re not willfully unemployed or under-employed and that your situation may continue for some period of time (rather than something that’s clearly very temporary).

If you need to modify your child support agreement, it’s best to get some experienced legal guidance as soon as possible.