Every parent has a legal duty to provide for their child until they reach adulthood. This is why if a relationship ends in a divorce or separation, one parent may be directed by the court to make child support payments to the other parent for purposes of meeting the child’s needs.
Child support payment is a statutory obligation that is set by the court. Failure to follow through with this requirement can land you in trouble with the law. But, what happens if you can no longer honor your child support obligations?
Here are a couple of steps you need to take if you fall behind on child support payments:
Clearly communicate with the other parent
No matter the nature of your relationship with the custodial parent, it is important that you talk to them about your financial situation and the reasons why you are struggling to keep up with your child support payments.
Of course, this is not something the law requires you to do; however, it can go a long way in averting a legal situation. It also helps prepare your ex for the financial strain ahead – which is part of being a responsible parent.
Talk to your ex about the financial challenges you might be going through so they are in the know. If you are planning to contact the Department of Child Support Services (which you should) for a child support modification, be sure to keep them in the loop.
Seek formal modification from the court
Your child support obligation will not automatically end because there is a substantial change in your financial circumstances that renders you unable to make payments.
If you are lagging behind in your child support payments, your arrears will continue to pile up until the court modifies this order. It is in your best interest to contact the court as soon as possible when you know you’re about to get behind on your payments.
If you are paying child support but have experienced a change in circumstances, it is important that you petition the court to modify the existing child support arrangement.