Losing a job is stressful for many reasons, but especially so if you are responsible for paying — or if you’re receiving — child support. How your unemployment affects your child support payments depends on your individual situation. However, one thing is certain: New Jersey courts take child support obligations very seriously, so you shouldn’t believe that you can get your support order modified immediately because of a job loss.
If you have lost your job and have child support obligations, you should work to find another job immediately. The court can assign an income level to you based on your previous salary if it finds that you could be working or if you take a job that pays substantially less than your previous job. If you are going to claim there are no jobs available, the court will want proof that you have conducted a serious effort to find a new job comparable to your old one.
If you are unemployed due to a disability, you will need to provide proof of your disability — medical records, expert testimony, or proof of workers comp — to the court. The court will then modify child support payments based on your disability income unless your only income is supplemental security income (SSI), in which case the court will not count that as income available for child support. You should be aware that child support payments can be deducted from your unemployment or worker’s comp benefits and sent directly to your ex.
Sometimes a job loss can support a motion for modification of your child support order. There is a legal standard that must be met to prove a parent is experiencing “changed circumstances.” These changes must be (1) unanticipated, (2) substantial, and (3) permanent. Some examples of changed circumstances include:
- An increase or decrease in the income of either parent
- An increase or decrease in the cost of living
- The payee remarries or begins living with another adult
- The payee becomes employed or gets a substantial raise in pay
- A parent or child suffers a serious illness or disability
It is important to follow the proper procedures to avoid facing a contempt order for violating the terms of the original court order. Your New Jersey divorce attorney is the best resource for providing you with the information you need to proceed with a proper modification of support request. He or she will be able to guide you through the necessary steps for filing your modification of support request with the court.
When you are faced with an important life decision regarding a key family relationship, the advice and assistance of an experienced family law attorney often prove crucial to your understanding of the issues involved and your satisfaction with the ultimate outcome of your family law matter. Contact us today for your free consultation.