Many times after a final orders hearing, parents have experienced substantial changes to their finances. Maybe you cannot afford your child support payments since being laid off, reduced from full-time to part-time, or struggling to make ends meet at a minimum wage job.
Failing to pay child support under these circumstances is no longer just the purview of deadbeat parents. There is help available when you cannot afford your child support payments.
What If I Can’t Pay My Child Support?
Because child support is a legal obligation to provide for a child’s basic living expenses, significant changes in your ability to pay need to be addressed through the Office of Child Support Enforcement. There you will file a motion for child support modifications due to:
- A change in income or valid unemployment
- Emergency medical costs
- Increased expenses and the child gets older, or similar.
Steer clear of making an informal agreement regarding lower child support payments with your former spouse, as it will likely not be recognized in a court hearing. Note that custodial parents may also file a motion for child support modifications should they feel they are owed more money.
Can I Just Stop Paying?
No! Not fulfilling your child support obligation can result in contempt of court and possibly even jail time. Admittedly, as effective as filing a contempt of court order is, it is usually only a last resort because the ultimate goal of child support is always about the child’s best interests.
The child support order remains in place even if you have less or no income. So, as soon as possible, file a motion with the courts to modify the child support payments based on your current financial situation.
What Can Happen To You If You Do Not Pay Child Support as Ordered?
No matter how valid your reason for not paying child support as ordered, in the eyes of the law defaulting on your payments could result in:
- Having your driver’s license revoked
- Garnishment of your paycheck
- Seizure of your tax returns
- Contempt of court and imprisonment.
Additionally, past-due child support will not be remedied once you get back on your feet. Your child support debt accrues interest at 10% per year per child in California.
Mitigate the risks involved when you cannot afford your child support payments by seeking the assistance of family law attorneys. The sooner you file for a modification, the better, so contact Westover Law Group online or by calling (951) 643-0085.