There is never an automatic reduction or termination of a child support obligation because of a loss in income. REPEAT: There is never EVER an automatic reduction or termination of a child support obligation because of a loss in income.
If someone loses their job, they need to take affirmative action to have the child support reduced. If you are the person receiving the support (“Recipient”), and the Payor experiences a legitimate job loss, it is probably advisable to agree to a lower, guidelines
amount of support until the payor get a new job. This can be done by the two of you filing a Joint Petition for Modification of Child Support
, each of your financial statements
and Child Support Guidelines Worksheet
. The time spent in court over a legitimate job loss is unlikely to fruitful and if you were still an intact family, if one person lost their job, the family would experience a reduction in income.
The problem usually arises when the loss in income appears to be voluntary (as in, they quit a good job without good reason) or after the initial job loss, a lot of time passes and there seems to be little to no effort on the part of the unemployed person to find a new job. If this is the case, and the unemployed person is behind on their child support, Complaint for Contempt
will need to be filed to enforce the child support obligation.
If at the contempt hearing, the Payor swears backwards and forward they have tried everything and can’t find a job, a request can be made that the court order that person to comply with the job search program in the Probation Department and ask for a review date in 30-60 days. If the Payor doesn’t comply with the job search program, when that review date comes, the court can order sanctions (i.e. additional money) or even jail time.
If the Payor does comply with the program but still hasn’t found a job, work with Probation and the court to determine what the problem is preventing this person from finding a job. If it’s lack of education or training, consider agreeing to a lowered amount of support while the Payor gets some additional training or education. This could mean a long-term increase in the Payor’s income which could mean more support in the long run for the children.
If you agree to a lowered amount of child support through a joint petition
but then time passes and the unemployed person is not actively seeking a new job,a Complaint for Modification
can be filed asking the court to return support to the original amount and/or force the Payor to comply with the job search program through the Probation Department.
The best piece of advice to Recipient parents having trouble getting child support is to work with the other parent and discuss your options with an attorney as soon as the arrears start adding up. It is easiest to get payments back on track as soon as possible after a problem arises.