What Should I Do if Declining Income Hurts My Ability to Pay Child Support?

February 8, 2019

You are required under federal law to live up to your child support agreement. However, the courts understand that there are some circumstances in which financial hardships might make it difficult for you to meet those responsibilities. This is especially true if you lose a job or have a sudden loss of income.

If this happens to you, you should never just stop paying your bills—your responsibility for child support does not end simply because you are going through a period of financial hardship. If you do stop paying, you could experience a number of consequences, including driver’s license suspension, tax refund interception, significant blows to your credit score and garnished wages. Even if you’re unable to pay the full amount, you should still at least attempt to pay what you can to show the court that you are acting in good faith and trying to get the money you owe to your child.

A failure to make your payments could result in the other parent seeking an order from the court to hold you in contempt, which could result in some of your property being taken and sold to make those payments.

Longstanding delinquency could result in you being put in jail or prison—and even there you cannot escape your responsibility for child support. Imprisonment will certainly result in a substantial change in income and living circumstances, but you are still required under state and federal law to make payments even for the time you spend behind bars.

Modifying your child support agreement

Fortunately, you do have the right to seek a modification of your child support agreement through a court petition and with the assistance of a qualified child support attorney in Miami, FL. The only way a judge will agree to such a modification is if you are able to clearly demonstrate that you had a substantial change in circumstances, such as a lost job, some sort of major medical event, an increase in the non-paying spouse’s income, the children moving into your home or, as mentioned above, incarceration.

To file your petition, you will use the same case number from the court papers when the child support arrangement was initially ordered. File it in the same court that oversees your current child support agreement, and make sure you include all of your current contact information so you can be contacted for a hearing date.

In your petition, be sure to tell the judge specifically what change you would like to make, why you believe that change to be necessary and why it still meets the standard of being in the best interest of your child(ren). The petition must be notarized, and you should make three copies—one that gets sent to the clerk of the circuit court, one that stays with you and one that is served to the other parent.

For more information about modifying child support agreements, contact an experienced child support attorney in Miami, FL at the Law Offices of Granoff & Kessler today.

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