When you lose your job, your child support order doesn’t just go away. You still owe the unpaid amount in arrears, which can’t be discharged in bankruptcy and usually can’t be reduced retroactively. The court can, however, modify your support obligation when you experience a change in your financial situation.
If you are unable to pay the current child support amount due to job loss, you may be able to secure a child support modification, which is a particular type of court order. Parents can agree on a modification. If an agreement is reached between the two parents, it must be put in writing and signed by a judge.
If you and the child’s other parent can’t agree on child support modification, you have to request a hearing in front of a judge where you will both be allowed to make arguments about your proposed modification of child support. To get a child support modification, you need to show the court that you have experienced a substantial change in circumstances. If your significant change in circumstances is that you lost your job or earn less money, make a serious effort to find new employment and document your attempts. But remember, job loss might not by itself be sufficient for a modification. There could be a review as to the reasons for the job loss and the court may impute income to you if the reason for your job loss involved your own bad conduct.
While you go through the process of getting a modified child support order, it’s important to try to keep up with your current child support obligations as best you can. Demonstrating good faith to the court is essential.