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What do I do if I can’t afford to pay my child support?

On Behalf of | Jul 31, 2020 | Divorce |

You’re a divorced parent who shares custody of the kids with your ex. Their other parent is their primary custodian, and as such, receives monthly support payments from you. Or they did until recently.

Your recent lay-off at work has caused you to get behind on your child support payments. You’re hoping to get called back into work but have no idea when that might occur. You never intended to be a deadbeat parent, but right now, the money is just not there.

What are your options?

As with most matters regarding the custody of the kids, communication with your child’s other parent is key. The worst thing to do is go radio silent and drop out of your children’s lives over this matter. In some cases, you may be able to make informal arrangements that balance the scales a little bit. For instance, if you are not working and your ex is considered an essential worker, you could offer to keep your child with you right now to allow them to work or take a much-needed break.

But an informal resolution is a stop-gap measure that will carry very little (if any) legal weight. In fact, while you might feel that this informal arrangement puts you in the clear with the court, you will certainly learn differently if your ex files a petition with the court alleging that you are in arrears on your support obligation.

Why is a legal agreement better?

The courts are aware that some circumstances can occur that make it impossible to continue paying the court-ordered amount of support. Job losses, illnesses and the current international health crisis should all qualify you to seek a child support modification. Doing so legally prevents a vindictive ex from backing out of an informal agreement and alleging you simply refused to pay up. Your Pleasanton family law attorney can provide you with guidance and advice about these matters.


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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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