What if I cannot pay my child support payments?

Not everyone who fails to pay child support is a neglectful parent who does not love their child. There are a variety of circumstances that make it impossible for parents to pay, including job loss or a recent disability. If you have missed child support payments you are not alone. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are millions of custodial parents who are due child support and many of these cases involve a parent who cannot pay.

What can you do if you cannot pay your child support payments? First, you need to contact the Child Support Enforcement Office in the state where the child support order was issued and let them know your financial circumstances have changed since your divorce, separation or the birth of your child. Under certain conditions, it may be time to file a formal motion requesting a modification due to changed circumstances. Common reasons to file a modification motion to either increase or decrease child support payments can include changes in income, increase in medical expenses, unemployment, or increased costs to raise a child.

Can you simply come to an informal oral agreement with your ex-spouse? Although this may seem like the simplest thing to do, if you do not complete a formal modification order the agreement will not be recognized by the courts.

Child support modification order

When are the courts likely to grant a child support modification order? State laws differ, but in general, a court will grant a permanent child support modification order if they determine either parent's income has significantly decreased or increased from a job change, one of the spouses remarries and the new spouse's income significantly increases the household income, the cost of living increases substantially, the child support laws in the state have changed, or the needs of the child have change substantially as they have aged, for instance, they are attending school or have high medical costs.

Child support payments are one of the most hotly contested divorce issues. For this reason it is important to talk to a divorce lawyer before agreeing to any type of child support payment. If you and your spouse cannot come to an equitable arrangement the court will intervene.

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