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Can I Reduce My Child Support Payments After Losing My Job?

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Parents in Florida have an obligation to support their children. Courts order child support payments to accomplish that goal after parents separate or divorce. However, what happens if someone cannot pay their child support obligations in Florida because they lost their job? Will the state take their property or send them to jail?

Failing to pay child support can result in severe penalties. However, you might be able to reduce your obligation after losing a job in some situations.

When Can I Modify Child Support to Reduce Payments in Florida?

A parent can only modify their child support payments in specific situations. The parent asking for the modification must prove that a material change in circumstances justifies the change. For example, a substantial change in income could lead to a change in child support payments.

A parent’s illness, disability, or injury could be another reason for modifying child support payments. A change in the child’s needs, such as the need for special medical care or education, could also result in a modification.

A Job Termination May Not Result in a Reduction of Child Support in Florida

While job loss could be a reason to reduce child support obligations, a judge will analyze all factors in the case. Losing your job does not waive your obligation to support your child. Therefore, the court will attempt to assess whether you are “employable” before granting a motion to modify child support.

For example, did you voluntarily quit your job because you did not like where you worked or the type of work you performed? If so, the judge may deny your request to reduce child support payments because you voluntarily gave up your job.

If you were fired, the judge may ask if you have made reasonable efforts to find other employment. If not, the judge may deny your petition to modify child support. The court may conclude that you must make a good-faith effort to find another job to support your child.

The court may also consider other factors. For example, do you have other resources to support yourself and your children while you look for another job? For instance, do you have savings, income-producing investments, or other resources you can use while you look for work? If so, the judge may not grant a modification of child support until a reasonable time has passed without finding a job.

Courts typically will not force a parent to pay support payments that would cause them to become homeless or bankrupt. A destitute parent cannot support their children.

You May Receive Some Relief From Child Support If You Lose Your Job

There are situations when a parent cannot find work after a diligent search or may have to take a job earning far less than they were making before. In those instances, the court may grant a temporary reduction in child support payments or suspend child support payments for a brief period. The goal is to allow the parent time to find another job.

It is important to remember that as long as you are earning some money, the court will require you to contribute to your child’s financial support. Suppose the court believes you are purposefully avoiding work, reducing your income, or hiding income to avoid paying child support. In that case, the court may impute income to you to calculate child support payments. In other words, a judge may assign income to you to determine your obligations.

What Happens If I Stop Paying Child Support Payments After Losing My Job in Florida?

You could face one or more consequences if you stop paying court-ordered child support payments. 

The consequences for failing to pay child support in Florida include:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Seizure of tax refunds
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Contempt of court, resulting in fines and/or jail
  • Liens on your vehicle and other property

If you are struggling to keep up with your obligations because of unemployment or other reasons, contact an Orlando child support lawyer immediately. An attorney can advise you of your legal options and help you petition the court to lower your child support obligation.

Because modifications in child support payments are not retroactive, it is best to seek legal advice as soon as possible. Waiting to talk with an attorney until you are served with contempt papers could limit your options for dealing with the problem.

Contact the Orlando Family and Divorce Law Firm of Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC for Help Today

For more information, contact our experienced Orlando child support lawyers at Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC by calling (407) 584-8704 to schedule a free consultation.

Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803
United States

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