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Lost Your Job But Still Owe Child Support? Don't Rely On Verbal Agreements To Adjust Payments

Law Blog

Losing the job that's keeping your bills paid is never a welcome experience, but there are times it brings additional woes: child support obligations that have to go unpaid. Because child support is usually mandated by a court order, missing a few payments can land you in serious trouble. If you've recently lost the ability to keep up with your support payments, this is what you should know.

Never make a verbal arrangement for child support.

Even if you and the child's other parent are on friendly terms, making a verbal agreement to reduce the amount of child support that you owe is a bad idea. People can easily misconstrue what the other party meant when making the agreement.

This is an easy example of what can wrong.

For example, imagine that Alan owes Barbara $500 a month in child support, but he loses his job and is forced to take a much lower-paying job while he looks for something better. He calls her, tells her about the problem and she reasonably agrees that he can pay her just $100 a month until he gets the better job. Six months go by without a problem and Alan eventually finds the better job he was looking to get. He promptly begins paying Barbara the $500 child support that he owes her. After a month or two, however, Barbara gets in contact with him and wants to know when the rest of the money will be coming—saying that she never intended that he not owe her the additional $400 per month that he wasn't paying while he worked the job with the lower income. She had only meant that she'd put off collecting until he was in better circumstances.

Alan could argue the point and take it to court. However, if Barbara has a court order that was never modified to show the change in monthly support—which is likely—the judge would probably find in Barbara's favor. That could obligate Alan not only to the original $500 per month but to the additional $400 per month that he missed paying until he's caught up!

Asking for a modification is easy.

Instead of relying on a verbal agreement, hire a child support attorney from a place like Cotto Law Firm P.C. and take the issue to court in the first place. Judges are fairly reasonable. As long as the loss in your income wasn't voluntary or something you could have prevented, most judges are willing to modify a support order fairly readily. Then, once your situation changes, the order can be modified again.

Falling behind on court-ordered child support is a serious concern—you can lose your driver's license, have your passport suspended, and even risk incarceration. Don't take chances with your future by relying on a verbal agreement, no matter how reasonable or easy-going it seems. Contact an attorney and ask for help with the issue so that it can be resolved through the appropriate legal channels instead.


12 January 2017