What happens if you were to lose your job? Do you still have to pay child support?
Generations before our saw people starting work with an employer at a young age. The worker would often time remain with that employer for sometimes decades into the future without having thought of leaving for greener pastures.
Today this sort of consistency and stability in employment is no longer the norm. You may be among those people who, for whatever reason, have moved from job to job with frequency. It may even be the case that you are often out of work for weeks or months at a time before being able to find another job. These would be challenging circumstances even if you were only responsible for taking care of yourself.
What happens if you are obligated to pay child support? If you have court orders in place that make it mandatory for you to pay child support, how can you handle making payments if you lose your job?
If you find yourself in this sort of position, you should contact the Office of the Attorney General as soon as you can. A new child support order will need to be negotiated, and it is not enough to call the OAG and inform them of your recent job loss.
Modifying a Child Support Order
To modify a prior child support order, a judge would need to look at your case and determine if there has been a substantial change in circumstance for one of the parties to the lawsuit or your child. I know a considerable difference is a little vague, but we can look at it as something significant that affects your ability to pay child support.
In addition to the substantial change qualification, a court can see if it has been at least three years since the child support order was created or last modified.
In addition, the amount that you currently pay in child support would need to be different by a factor of 20 percent or $100 from the amount that you should be paying currently based on your current income and the guidelines outlined in the Texas Family Code.
Begin looking for a job as soon as you are let go from your previous employer
It is not enough to tell the judge that your income has been reduced and prove that you have indeed been let go from your employer. Many judges will require that you confirm that you are currently engaged in a job search or are taking coursework to transition into a new line of work.
The bottom line is your job search must be ongoing, and you cannot be standing still while expecting to receive a reduction in your child support obligation.
What if you are very, very far behind in paying child support?
There exists the belief in some noncustodial parents that if you fall behind in paying child support, if the arrearage gets large enough, the OAG will forgive the arrearage, or the court will dismiss any past-due support that is owed. All that is needed is an explanation in their minds.
This is not the case, however. I have seen fathers be assessed probation as a penalty for falling $200,000 behind in child support payments. This particular father was ordered to pay one-half of his net monthly resources to begin to pay his ex-wife her back child support benefits that he had not been paying for many years.
If he fell further behind and could not pay the child support back as ordered, his probation would be revoked, and he would serve time in jail. The point is this is serious, and the consequences for falling far behind in child support will not be wiped away once your arrearage reaches a specific number.
While we are on the subject- you can be placed in jail for up to six months for the failure to timely and fully pay child support. You could be found to be in contempt of court for violating at least one of its orders in your case. There are possible fines that you could face of up to $500 per violation on top of the jail time. That's not to mention attorney's fees and court costs on top of everything else we've already mentioned.
What can you do if you lose your job?
This is advice beyond what a family law attorney typically will give. Some people work as vocational counselors that you can speak to about helping you to find work in a given field. If you suffer from a disability or impairment of some sort, these folks may be able to assist you further, as well.
Additionally, you can go to the website for the Texas Workforce Commission to see if there are any classes nearby that can assist you with job placement and skills training. Our State and local governments often offer primary schooling regarding reading, writing, and substance abuse. You will need to be proactive in seeking help for yourself. These programs will not come knocking on your door. It would help if you initiated contact with them.
Can you stop paying child support if the other parent doesn't allow you visitation?
If your child's other parent is not allowing you to contact or visit with your child, you may be wondering whether or not you need to continue to pay child support. After all, isn't the purpose of you paying the support in the first place is to be able to provide a certain level of care for your child and to be able to enjoy this time together as a family?
Regardless of whether or not you can see your child at the scheduled times in your order, you must continue to pay child support. This may strike you as being unfair, but it is the law in Texas, not just a statement I am making to you.
If you fall behind in paying child support, are you still able to see your child?
Your inability or unwillingness to pay child support does not give the custodial parent the right to withhold your child from you. Child support and visitation with your child are treated as separate issues under the Texas Family Code. You have the right to spend time with your child even if you fall behind in paying child support.
The bottom line is that both you and the custodial parent must follow the court orders in your case. Deciding to match their evil acts with one of your own is a recipe for a contentious family law case.
Closing thoughts on child support
Child support is a much-discussed subject in either divorce or child custody cases. Remember that ultimately your child support is for your child, not the custodial parent. Keeping this in mind, those payments may be sent a little easier and with less frustration.
If you run into any problems with paying child support in Texas, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our experienced and effective family law attorneys practice in the area of child support frequently and would be honored to provide you with the sort of representation and advocacy that you and your family deserve.
To learn more about our office and ask any questions you may have on this or any other subject in family law, please get in touch with us today. A free-of-charge consultation is just a phone call away.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Handling a child support case as the noncustodial parent, Part Five
- How to handle a child support case as the noncustodial parent, Part Four
- How to take child support as the noncustodial parent, Part Three
- Defining a material and substantial change in a child support modification case
- How to correctly calculate child support in Texas
- Is Overtime Pay or Bonus Pay Considered for Texas Child Support?
- Child Support in Texas: What is the most you will have to pay, and what are the exceptions to that rule?
- The Dirty Trick of Quitting Your Job to Avoid Child Support During a Texas Divorce
- Can I get child support while my Texas divorce is pending?
- Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Have Joint Custody of My Child in Texas?
- Can I Sue My Ex for Retroactive or Back Child Support in Texas?
- Child Support and College Tuition in Texas
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Child Support Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child support, it's essential to speak with one of our Houston, TX, child support lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our child support lawyers in Houston are skilled at listening to your goals and developing a strategy to meet those goals during this trying process. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles child support cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.