Child support exists to ensure separated or divorced parents provide equal financial support for the children. However, at some point one parent may have circumstances arise when he or she is unable to make the child support payments. When this happens, you cannot simply stop making the court ordered payments to the other parent. If you miss a payment, there are some things you need to do so you do not end up in legal trouble. The following are some examples:
Ask for a Modification
You never know when your financial circumstances will change. If you are suddenly unable to make your child support payments, you can go to court and request a modification. To get a modification, you have to officially petition the court to explain the need for the change. You will need to provide written proof as to why you need a modification.
If you get an approval, the court can make several types of arrangements. One option is to create a payment plan based on your current financial disposition. This is to ensure the other parent gets some money, even if it is not the original agreed upon amount. The judge can also change your child support payment amount to a sum that you can afford with your current income. A modification can be temporary or permanent. You are expected to report any changes to the court so that you pay a fair amount each month.
Talk to Your Child's Other Parent
If you expect you will not be able to make your normal child support payment, you need to tell your child's other parent as soon as possible. You do not legally have to inform the other parent, but it is in both your and your child's best interest to do so. The other parent may be willing to take it easy on you. If you simply do not pay, he or she can take you directly to court where you can face legal problems.
If you go this route, be sure to explain the reason for the non-payment and that you are taking steps to make sure he or she gets some money as soon as possible. The communication will help decrease tension and allow the other parent to prepare financially for the loss of income due to your inability to make your payment. This does not absolve you from paying, but it is ideal to be upfront.
Appear in Court
If you make no effort to make your child support payments, your child's other parent can go to court and state your failure to pay. You will get a date to appear in court. If you fail to appear, you will have more penalties and fees to deal with. Ideally, you should have your family law attorneys go to court with you if you are in this situation. When you go to court, you will have to state why you are not paying your child support. Bring along documentation stating your income, your employment information, and a medical excuse if you are unable to work due to a medical condition.