If you are unemployed, you might think that the court can excuse you when it comes to child support payments. However, nothing could be further from the truth. You need to know more about child support and why unemployment won't erase the payments. Below are some things to note about unemployment and child support.
Expect Imputed Income
The first thing you should know is that you are not off the hook for child support obligations just because you currently don't have a job. Child support is calculated based not on your current income, but on your current earning ability. Thus, if you are not earning anything, but you are able to earn at least $3,000, it is the $3,000 that the court will use to determine the support you should pay.
The process of determining your earning ability for child support purposes is called imputing income. It factors in several things such as your last job, education level, and the reason for unemployment. In many cases, you have to justify to the court why you are unemployed.
Be Wary Of Informal Agreements
It is tempting to come into a formal agreement with the custodial parent and pay a reduced child support amount. Unfortunately, this may come back to haunt you later in the form of child support arrears. This is because child support is not for the custodial parent's benefit, it is for the welfare of the child. The court, rather than the parents, determines how much child support is necessary.
Therefore, if you agree to a reduced amount, and the other parent later changes their mind, the court will back the other parent without a doubt. The court will toss out the informal agreement you made with the custodial parent, and you will have to pay the arrears.
Fight for a Modification
Considering the above analysis, it's best for you to fight for a modification rather than negotiate with the custodial parent. File a modification request in court and prove why you are unable to pay the imputed amount. Note that it is nearly impossible to get rid of the child support altogether; the best you can do is to get a reduced amount. You also need to do your best with the payments while your modification request is pending. That will show the court that you care for your child's welfare and you are doing your best to meet the support obligations.
Child support payments are serious; missed payments can follow you for the rest of your life. That is why it's important to consult a child custody lawyer, such as Marlene Dancer Adams, to help you get your child support issues right the first time.
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