If you and your child’s other parent are not together, you may have been ordered to pay child support to ensure that your child gets the care they need. At the time the order was rendered, you might have been in a position to make the payments. However, a while later, you lose your job and your income changes, making it challenging to keep up with the child support requirements.
You might be wondering whether you can stop paying child support or pay a lesser amount because you lost your job. The short answer is you can’t – not without an amended court order. Thus, your financial situation has changed, but your legal obligation has not. You are still required to make child support payments in the amount stipulated by your current order unless the court approves your request for a modification.
What Happens to Your Child Support Obligations If You Lose Your Job?
In California, both parents must provide financial support for their child or children. If you are not with your child’s other parent, the court may have ordered you to pay a monthly amount to them to meet your legal obligations.
Making child support payments can be difficult if you lose your job, as you may be earning a lower or no income. You might think that the situation allows you to stop paying child support or pay a lesser amount. Technically, it can, but this is not automatic. Unless you get a modified order from the court, you are still required to pay the full amount.
If you do not make payments as ordered by the court and you do not get a modification, you will have arrears, meaning you will owe back payments plus interests for the months payments were not made in full.
How Do You Modify Your Child Support Payments?
If you lost your job and need to change your child support amount, you must make a request to the court for a modification.
The process for modifying child support includes:
- Preparing and submitting forms,
- Filing your paperwork with the court,
- Getting a court date, and
- Attending a hearing.
Even if you and your child’s other parent agree on adjustments to the support amount, you must submit a written agreement signed by parties and the Judge’s signature will be required in order modify the child support by agreement. An informal agreement is not enforceable.
You must take action as soon as possible after your financial situation changes. Modifications can only be effective starting on the date you submitted your Request for Order.
To clarify, suppose you lost your job in June. For whatever reason, you wait until October to request a modification. You did not make any payments between June and September because your income did not allow it. Still, if the court approves your request, it can modify the child support amount only from October onward. Therefore, you are still on the hook for the full amounts in June, July, and September. You will also be required to pay interest for those three months.
It is also important to note that simply submitting your modification request does not relieve you of your child support obligations. In other words, you can’t stop making payments because the court received your paperwork. The change in your support amount does not take effect until a judge signs a new order.
Contact Our Firm Today
Although you might have lost your job, you must still go through a complex legal process to change your child support order. Time is of the essence, which is why it is crucial to retain legal representation right away.
To schedule a consultation with a member of our Pasadena team, please contact the Law Offices of Makupson & Howard at (888) 328-2734.