Can I Stop Paying Child Support if I’m Unemployed?

When noncustodial parents are ordered to pay child support, in many cases, there are lots of things the parents don’t know about child support. “What happens if I lose my job and can’t pay? What if my ex won’t let me see my kids, can I stop paying child support? Can I include child support arrears in bankruptcy?” are the kinds of questions parents typically have, though these are only the beginning. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to address the issue of unemployment and child support.

“If I lose my job, I can’t afford to pay child support. Are there consequences if I don’t pay it? After all, child support is based on my income, so if I have no income, I shouldn’t owe child support, right?” No, that is not how it works. In Colorado and all states, both parents are legally required to financially support their children regardless of their circumstances.

If your kids lived with you, you’d still have to put food on the table, take them to the doctor, provide a roof over their head, and buy them clothing, right? Well, being the noncustodial parent doesn’t reduce that obligation in any way. You are legally obligated to support your children no matter what. If you are disabled, unemployed, terminally ill, incarcerated, or mentally ill, it would not alter your legal obligation to pay child support.

Can Child Support Come Out of Unemployment?

If you were to be out of work because of a layoff, a disability, or an illness and you started receiving Social Security Disability benefits, unemployment benefits, or workers’ compensation, any of these benefits could be taken to pay child support. However, if you were to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), it cannot be taken for child support, though you can voluntarily pay child support with these funds.

If you lose your job or cannot work for any reason, it’s critical that you petition the court for a downward modification promptly. Child support is NOT retroactive, so the courts will not go back and reduce what you owe from the date you became unemployed. What’s more, you will owe child support indefinitely until the balance is paid off in full. As a “priority debt,” child support cannot be discharged in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcies.

Need help with a child support matter? Contact Kaplan Law, L.L.C. for the professional legal representation you need and deserve.