What Happens if I Lose My Job and Can No Longer Pay Child Support?
The loss of a job can cause significant difficulties, regardless of your situation. However, if you are a divorced parent who pays child support, a sudden and unexpected loss of income can not only affect you, but it may cause difficulties for your ex-spouse and your children. If you find yourself in a situation where you may be unable to meet your child support obligations, you will need to determine how to proceed. It is important to understand your options for seeking a modification of the amount you will be required to pay. By addressing this issue correctly, you can avoid legal issues such as penalties for non-payment of support, and you can put solutions in place that will allow you and your family to maintain financial stability.
Understanding Your Child Support Obligations in Illinois
A child support order put in place in family court must be followed. Even if you do not have the ability to pay the amount owed, you will be legally obligated to do so until the court issues a new order modifying your obligations. All amounts owed must be paid in full, and if you fall behind on payments, interest will be applied until what is owed is fully paid. Continued non-payment of child support could lead to other penalties. If the court determines that you have wilfully refused to pay the amounts owed, you could be held in contempt of court, which could lead to fines, the suspension of your driver's license, and even imprisonment. Because of these issues, it is crucial to take immediate action to address any issues that could affect your ability to meet your obligations.
Seeking a Modification of Child Support
If you lose your job or face financial hardship, you may petition the court to modify your child support order. Modification requests may be granted if you can demonstrate a significant change in circumstances. The loss of a job will usually qualify as a significant change, although the reason for your job loss may be considered. That is, if you were laid off because of downsizing, the court will be more likely to look favorably at your situation and help you determine how to proceed as you seek a new job. However, if you were fired for misconduct, or if you quit your job voluntarily, you may not be granted a modification, and your child support obligations may remain in place.
When petitioning for a modification, you will need to provide information showing the reasons for your job loss, as well as documentation of your efforts to find new employment. Based on the information provided, the court may agree to temporarily lower your child support payments until you can find new work. If you receive unemployment benefits, a percentage of the amount you receive may be put toward child support. If there is any reason you may experience a permanent decrease in your income, such as health issues that affect your ability to work full-time, your child support payments may be lowered permanently. When determining an appropriate amount that you will be required to pay, the court will consider the amount of income you should be able to earn based on your education, work experience, and any other issues that may affect you.
It is also important to note that until any modifications are approved, you will be required to pay the amount of child support that had previously been ordered. However, if modifications are put in place, they may be retroactive to the date that you filed a petition for modification, and you may receive credit for some of the child support paid during your case. To ensure that your financial interests will be protected, it is important to file a petition for modification as soon as possible after the loss of a job or any other events that may affect your ability to meet your obligations.
Contact Our St. Charles Child Support Modification Lawyers
Losing a job or experiencing a significant decrease in income can be stressful and challenging in any situation, but it can be especially worrisome for divorced parents who pay child support. In these situations, it is important to know that you have options, and by taking quick, effective action, you can put solutions in place that will protect you against penalties or other legal issues. At Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC, our Kane County child support attorneys can help you file a petition to modify child support, and we will advocate on your behalf to ensure that you will be able to protect your financial interests while meeting your children's needs going forward. Contact us at 630-665-7300 to set up a consultation.