As a parent, it is likely you will need to financially support your child through child support payments. If you find yourself struggling to afford your payments, however, there may be help available. Despite the stereotype of deadbeat parents failing to make payments, the court is more than willing to help you find a solution that allows you to meet your payments.
What Can I Do If I Can’t Afford My Payments?
First, you should contact the Child Support Enforcement office, and file a formal motion requesting a modification due to changed circumstances. The amount of support you owe was calculated using financial reports and income you earned at the time the order was set. If your circumstances have changed significantly, you may be paying many times more than you should be in child support. It is better to request a modification than to fall behind on your payments.
What Circumstances Qualify?
There are certain situations that can merit a change in your child support payments. Not every circumstance is eligible, so you should speak with an experienced family law attorney about your unique case. Examples of situations that may be grounds for a child support modification include:
- Changes in income
- Disability or serious injury
- Medical expenses
- Changing costs of raising a child as they grow
The court understands that your life can drastically change after the initial order was given. This is especially true if you have lost your job or become disabled. Even if the situation is only temporary, you should apply for a modification, rather than miss any payments. It’s worth taking steps to legally protect yourself and lower your payments while your situation changes, rather than face the steep consequences of missing payments.
If you find yourself needing to modify your support order, be sure to have adequate evidence of the circumstances that require the change. Your family law attorney can help you document the changes and file the modification request. The court will work with you to modify the order if they feel there is adequate cause for the change. Generally, the court prefers the child to receive a reduced amount of support over receiving no support due to unaffordable payments.
It is critical for your own protection to always make your modification through the court, even if the other parent agrees to the change. A non-binding agreement could leave you vulnerable to later disputes. No matter what your relationship is with the other parent, you should always may legal arrangements for a modification. You can never tell what the future holds, and it is important to protect yourself from any potential backlash, even if you have a good relationship with the other parent.
Why It’s Important to Communicate
While it’s not recommended to make informal arrangements with the other parent for lower payments, it is important to talk with them about the changes that have happened if you find yourself unable to pay. While this isn’t legally required, it can help you to avoid legal battles or other retaliatory action by the other parent. Let them know what steps you are taking to remedy the issue, such as contacting the Child Support Enforcement office to request a modification of your payments. This can help keep drama to a minimum and possibly head off any legal action they were contemplating on taking against you.
What Do I Do If I Have to Go to Court for Late Payments?
Even if you’re working on a modification, you will still need to go to court. Alert your lawyer to these changes so they can help you through the hearing. An attorney who is experienced in support modification can help you protect yourself from the consequences of failing to pay child support, as well as fight for the modification you need to make your payments.
You will need to show proof of income, tax returns, and pay stubs that you have received since the initial order. These documents can help you prove changes to your finances. If you are unemployed, present proof that you have been seeking work. If you have medical conditions that are interfering with your ability to pay, bring in records, bills, and doctor’s reports to demonstrate that you require a modification. A carefully prepared argument and supporting evidence can help you prove that you had legitimate reasons for missing your payments.
The court should treat your case accordingly and arrange a new payment plan that fits your current situation. You should always go through the appropriate legal channels when you cannot afford to make your child support payments.
Need Help? Talk to Our New York City Family Lawyers – (917) 809-7669
When it comes to modifying a child support order, the difference between a well-prepared case and a fair case can make a world of difference. Our New York City family law attorneys have more than 30 years of collective experience helping families deal with the complexities of child support. Don’t let your legitimate needs be overlooked because you don’t have the knowledgeable legal advocacy you need on your side.
At Goldweber Epstein LLP, we are dedicated to protecting you in the face of your overwhelming child custody payments. Whether you need help getting a modification or are facing a hearing for missed child support payments, our skilled team is in your corner. We have a deep understanding of the struggles you are facing, and our compassionate team believes that you aren’t any less of a parent, simply because you need help affording your child support payments Schedule a consultation with our team to start your case.
Contact our legal team today! Call (917) 809-7669.