Help! What If You Can't Afford Your Child Support Payments?

Child support payments are enforceable by law. Judges will consider your income and expenses, but this system has its flaws. Furthermore, job losses, divorces, and recessions can get in the way. The question is – what happens if you can't afford to pay your child support.

You Are Not Alone

For starters, be aware of the fact that only 45% of child support payments were made in full in 2003, so you're not alone. If you truly cannot pay your child support, there are steps you can take to handle the situation in the right way.

Don't Bury Your Head in the Sand

The worst thing you can do is try to avoid the payments completely, as you face harsher penalties. Get in touch with your local Child Support Enforcement Office and discuss the issue that you face. Ask for the forms to file for a modification due to changed circumstances.

This can only be done when there is a genuine change in circumstances. That includes any changes to your income/employment, medical expenses that you've had to pay, changes to your living circumstances, and any other children you have living with you.

Claim for Undue Hardship

Another option is to prove that you face undue hardship if you do make the full child support payments each month. This is something you'll need to prove through bank statements and regular outgoings to prove that your standard of living is poorer than the other child's parent.

If you receive social assistance, the social service agency will be able to help you prove this. You can also talk to an attorney like those at Haslam & Thorne, LLP to help you organize documents and build your case.

Discuss With the Other Parent

You and the other parent can come to a joint decision, and then file a motion with the courts. This is great for those who have been through amicable separations. Even if you cannot come to a decision, keep the other parent involved throughout the process. Being honest will, in most cases, help the process go more smoothly.

Make Lifestyle Changes

There are times that the failure to meet the payments is due to a budgeting or cash flow error on your side. In these cases, the courts won't look at you favorably, so you'll need to make lifestyle changes. This can include downsizing your home or liquidating other assets. Focus on budgeting to improve your cash flow where necessary.

Bear in mind that some of these lifestyle changes can lead to your ex-partner filing for a motion of change because you should have more income available.

There's no point burying your head in the sand. Sometimes you can't make your payments due to situations out of your control. Take action to get the amounts reduced, whether through the courts or by talking to your former partner.