Losing your job is never easy. Often, it takes weeks or even months to get back on your feet after being laid off. For parents paying child support, however, losing a job becomes an emergency which can affect their child support obligations tremendously if not dealt with immediately.
Payments Don’t Stop
Many people believe that if they lose their job, then their child support obligations stop. This could not be further from the truth. When a person is no longer employed, nothing changes unless that person takes action. The parent will still have an obligation to make the payments even if they have no money, and any missed payments will quickly accrue.
For that reason, it is extremely important that parents who pay child support contact an attorney immediately if they lose their job. It can be very difficult to have back payments removed from a child support order, and a delay of even a month or two can result in thousands of dollars of debt.
Income Can Be Garnished
Once back payments have accrued, the Department of Child Services (DCS) or the court can take action to garnish any income you may be receiving. This include unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, tax returns, and the wages from any new job.
If the arrearages become large enough, the court and/or DCS can revoke the parent’s driver’s license or have the parent put in jail for contempt. Both of these situations would make it very difficult for the parent to continue searching for work.
Support Orders Can Be Modified
The best course of action for parents who have lost their job is to contact a family law attorney as soon as possible. Child support orders can be modified, and are more easily modified when the parent is not several months behind in payments.
A court or DCS can modify the child support payment schedule to reflect a parent’s actual financial state. Sometimes, arrearages which accrued during the unemployment may be forgiven or spread out through other payments, but it is not wise to rely on this happening. In general, a modification of a child support order will take effect on the day it is granted, rather than on the day the parent became unemployed, which means that person will still owe back child support for the missed payments.
If you have lost your job, and have an obligation to pay child support, contact the attorneys at Pacific Northwest Family Law today. Our lawyers can work with you and your former partner to come up with a resolution to your child support issues, and can help you avoid garnishments or license suspensions.
For help with your situation, contact us today by calling 509-572-3700.