When people are obligated to pay child support, they’re often concerned about what would happen if they ran into financial troubles. They might ask themselves if it’s ever acceptable to stop paying child support in order to avoid financial ruin, and they might wonder about various factors such as joblessness and bankruptcy.
In general, the courts take child support very seriously and expect you to do whatever you can to pay for the support of your children.
Bankruptcy. If you file for bankruptcy, you’ll find that child support isn’t a debt that can be discharged. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, for example, child support is considered a priority debt that must be addressed over other debts. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, child support will be worked into your overall repayment plan.
Joblessness. On losing your job, your child support obligations don’t end. For instance, if you get unemployment benefits, a part of them will go towards supporting your child. If you find yourself in true financial straits, you’ll likely need to appeal to the court for a modification on child support payments. You can argue that you’re unemployed, and also provide proof that you’re actively looking for a job so that the court won’t think that you’re simply choosing to neglect your duties.
In many cases, you’ll need a lawyer to assist you in making sure you can fulfill your obligations without suffering from penalties, which in serious cases includes jail time and a possible loss of a professional license or driver’s license. An good divorce attorney will help make sure that you’re in compliance with your child support obligations and are being treated fairly by the courts.
For example, there are people who no longer need to pay child support, but are still being subjected to late payment notices, deductions, and threats of penalties. In other cases, a modification to child support must be made, sometimes as a reduction and sometimes as an increase, whether temporary or permanent. To ensure that your child’s best interests are being met while also securing fair treatment for yourself, you’ll need a lawyer who can advocate for you in the courts and guide you through child support difficulties, particularly in situations where you’re facing serious financial troubles.