I Lost My Job. Do I Still Have to Pay Child Support?
Child support is a type of financial assistance paid from one former spouse to another in support of the couple’s children after divorce. If you lose a job, your children do not automatically put their needs on hold. They still need food, clothing, shelter, and other everyday resources.
Losing your job does not exempt you from paying child support. If you choose to avoid payments while you’re unemployed, there can be long-lasting and sometimes severe legal consequences like:
- Tax refund interception
- License suspension
- Passport revocation
- Being held in contempt of court
There are also financial consequences of avoiding child support payments, including additional fines and interest accrual.
If you’ve lost a job, there are several steps that you can take, however.
Notify the Court
If you are laid off from your job, immediately notify the court and your child’s custodial parent. Having it on record that you have lost your job may help you if you need to request a modification of your support order.
Request a Modification
Though modifications take time, you can submit a request for a modification hearing right away. This may be useful if you are concerned that finding new employment will take the time or if you believe the new employment may have a significant difference in the pay you receive.
Modification hearings can help by changing the amount of child support you’re required to pay.
In Michigan, modifications are not retroactive. This means that you will not have a reduction in support starting the day you become unemployed. If you qualify for a support payment reduction, it will only be applicable from the day you filed the petition for change.
Modifications may be granted if there has been a significant change in circumstances. Examples include:
- Significant changes in income
- Inheritance or lottery winnings
- Support for additional children
- Disability or death of a child
Depending upon your circumstances, the court may rule that you can suspend the child support payments for a specific period of time. Suspending the payments simply means that you are putting them off until a later date. They are not erased. If applicable, the support payments may be reduced as well.
Apply for Unemployment
Immediately apply for unemployment benefits if you are eligible. Once those payments begin, your child support payments will automatically be deducted from them.
Normally, you’ll qualify for unemployment payments if you were laid off from your job due to circumstances beyond your control. If the company downsized its workforce or closed, for instance, you can often collect unemployment.
In some circumstances, you might also be eligible for benefits even if you were fired from your job.
If you voluntarily quit or reduce your work hours, however, you will not qualify for unemployment benefits. You also may not qualify for a reduction in child support payments because the court may find that you are trying to avoid providing adequate support to your child.
Child support is decided based on what is best for your child. It is a legal obligation that will not go away, regardless of your life circumstances. It is enforced in all states and severe penalties can be assessed if you try to avoid it.
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