What You Can Do If You Can’t Pay Your Support Obligation

Two daughtersMost non-custodial parents want to provide for their children, and understand the importance of meeting their child support obligation. But what happens if you lose your job, or you are self-employed and can’t get a customer to pay you? What can you do to minimize the potential problems?

The Loss of a Job Won’t Affect Your Obligation

A child support obligation is a court order. It will stay in effect until withdrawn, amended or completed. Accordingly, even if you lose your job or can’t get a customer to pay you, you will still be liable for regular child support. You can petition the court to amend your obligation, but you won’t likely get much relief, if any. The court will typically require a permanent and substantial change in your income to make a change to the order. Courts are reluctant to change support orders due to temporary unemployment, as the order will have to be amended again when you go back to work. In most instances, you will simply accrue an arrearage and will have to pay a higher amount when you go back to work to make up the arrearage.

What to Do When You Can’t Pay Support

The first thing to do is contact your child support enforcement office in the state and county where your divorce was finalized. This will typically be the agency that handles your child support, unless you have legally transferred the responsibility. The agency will typically have forms that you can complete to request a change in support, but the court will have to approve any change.

If you agreed in the court order to pay support directly to your ex-spouse, you should immediately contact him or her. You may be able to work out arrangements to make up the arrearage. However, if you pay directly to a child support enforcement agency that then sends payment to your ex, there’s no benefit to contacting your ex other than as a courtesy. The decision to seek enforcement may or may not come from your ex or from the agency, but the enforcement agency may or may not act without request or approval from your ex.

Contact the Law Office of Taylor & Boguski

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 856-200-8989.