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Barbara L. Jouette, Attorney, P.C.
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Does unemployment affect my child support obligations?

Suffering the loss of a job can cause serious hardships. And if you are unemployed or underemployed for a prolonged period of time, you will likely have to make a number of financial adjustments. Some alterations, such as cutting your cable TV service, are easy to make, but other expenses may be more difficult to avoid.

If you have been required by the court to pay child support, those payments must be submitted regardless of your personal circumstances. Support payments are intended to help ensure that a child receives those items, such as food, clothing, and shelter, that are considered essential.

But if you are in such dire straits that you simply cannot meet your financial obligations it may be possible to have your payment plan modified. To do this, you first may want to contact the child's other parent and ask if it would be okay to reduce the amount you are presently paying. Hopefully, the other parent will agree to make the change.

But regardless of the other parent's response, you have to file a request with the court. Since the court would prefer that the child continues to receive the support, you may be called upon to use other revenue sources, such as unemployment benefits and severance pay. It's also important to document your attempts at finding a new job so the court understands that you sincerely want to better your situation as soon as possible.

Above all, do whatever is necessary to keep up with payments, even while you are seeking a modification. Failing to pay could make the court less inclined to grant your requests, and you will have to cover your delinquent debts.

If you believe your circumstances merit a modification of your child support terms, you may want to discuss the matter with an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can assess your situation to help you prepare a case the demonstrates your status for a modification.

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