I’ve lost my job. Can I stop paying child support?

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

Losing your job can be extremely stressful, especially when that is your sole source of income and you have a child support order to honor. If you stay out of work for a lengthy period, you may be concerned about an impending child support bill and what could happen next.

Typically, a child support order remains in force unless stated otherwise by the court. This means you are required by law to make these payments. However, certain special circumstances may warrant a modification of the child support order. One of these – possibly – is a change in your income.

Child support payments following job loss

Just because you are out of the job doesn’t mean that your child’s day-to-day needs (food, clothing, shelter, medical and education) will cease. You’ll need to determine if you qualify for unemployment benefits. If you do, then you need to advise the unemployment office about the child support order so deductions can be made on your benefits and remitted directly to your child’s other parent.

Why you lost your job may matter in re: a petition for a modification

Loss of employment can warrant child support modification. While reviewing your petition, however, the court will likely want to know why you lost your job. If your employer closed shop leading to a layoff, or if you lost your job due to an injury, the court may be open to the idea of reducing your child support amount. However, if you deliberately resigned, were fired or if you left your job to pursue personal interests like traveling around the world, then the court will be adamant about rejecting your petition for a modification. This is because family courts are wary of child support obligors who intentionally leave their jobs to avoid providing for their children.

Protecting your interests

Your duty to provide for your child does not go away when you lose your job. However, if your circumstances have genuinely changed due to circumstances beyond your control, you may petition the court to review and modify your child support order. Seeking legal guidance and learning more about New Jersey child support laws can help you protect your interests while petitioning the court for a modification.

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