Avoiding Legal Trouble When You’re Experiencing Financial Hardships
Child support provides the custodial parents with the financial assistance they need to help their child thrive. Though it may seem otherwise, most parents are okay with paying some level of child support for this purpose. However, while a child support order may have been sustainable in past years, sometimes an unforeseen event such as a job loss or other reduction in income can put a strain on the paying parent and impact their ability to keep up with their support payments - and you never want to get behind on your child support payments. If you’re struggling to pay child support, follow these steps or call The Law Office of David A. Martin & Associates and we’ll do it for you.
Talk to Your Co-parent
It’s usually wise to inform your coparent of your inability to pay child support right now, and why. Doing so gives them an opportunity to find a way to meet your child’s needs without your scheduled check. It also gives them a chance to consider making an agreement with you for a new support order. In the long run, it will help build trust between you.
It’s also important to note that your co-parent cannot legally dismiss your child support requirement or “give you a pass” this month or at any point in time. Unless and until you get a new court order, you remain legally obligated to fulfill your child support agreement in the complete amount, even if you must repay it late, plus interest!
Reevaluate Your Expenses
For the sake of your child and your duty to provide for them, you should immediately review your expenses. While money may be tight, there is no guarantee that the court will lower your child support payments. See if there is any room to trim expenses by cutting down on nonessentials.
Seek a Modification
If you think your income will be reduced or eliminated for more than 30 days, you should consider getting a new court order to modify your monthly support obligation. This can be done with a simple written agreement signed by both parties and the Court, but usually you will have to file a motion (certainly so, if your coparent will not cooperate.) However, it is vitally important to first determine what the support order might be BEFORE you file for a change. In court, you will have to demonstrate that your change in circumstance has a material impact on the current order for support - and sometimes it will not, especially if the current order is well-below statewide guidelines. If you want help modifying child support, our attorneys can help negotiate or litigate for a new child support order. Our attorneys will:
- Negotiate an agreement with the other parent for a new support amount, whenever possible, then create a formal written document detailing the terms of that agreement, and then present it for approval by the Court as an “Order.”
- Compile evidence (admissible information) that proves your involuntary reduction of income, or any other material change in circumstance.
- Prepare, file and serve the necessary paperwork to get us into the courtroom, and then we will effectively argue your case to the Judge to receive a new order.
If necessary, inform your local child support agency of your changed financial situation and work with that agency toward a new order.
Remember, it’s important to start the modification process as soon as you suspect that a change in your circumstances will interfere with your ability to make payments.
If you’re struggling to pay your child the support as you once could, contact The Law Office of David A. Martin & Associates. Our attorneys will review your case and help you fight for a modification so that you may provide for your child without sacrificing your own financial stability. Call us at (916) 299-3936 for more information.