What Happens to Child Support If I Lose My Job?

What Happens to Child Support If I Lose My Job?

If facing unemployment is scary, it is even more frightening when you have children who depend on you. Kids need a lot of care, and losing a job can put their quality of life at risk. The same goes for court-mandated child support; unemployment benefits can change depending on whether you have child support to pay.

Since the non-payment of child support affects the custodial parent and the child, the loss of a job must be immediately conveyed to them with respect and compassion. A party who acts with decency and sensitivity towards the other party’s difficult circumstances, especially in affairs of the present pandemic, is far more likely to receive the benefit of the doubt in a future hearing. The custodial parent and the non-custodial parent can write a written legal arrangement about modifying the child support order.

Modifying Child Support Order

The first move that an unemployed parent providing child support should make is to seek a child support order modification. This modification can either be temporary or permanent.

It might take months to get a hearing, so it is best if the application for a modification is made as soon as possible. For example, if you wait for three months before filing the claim, then the court might ask you to pay full child support for those three months. The parent might lose the opportunity to seek retroactive relief due to this. The court is capable of understanding problems families are facing during this pandemic, but you should act quickly.

Child support payments are automatically deducted from wages, and the arrears will continue to accumulate unless the court orders a modification.

The family court can issue a downward modification of the order if:

  • The non-custodial parent’s income or the cost to raise a child has substantially changed, or
  • If the parent’s gross income has fallen by at least 15 percent since the court has put out the child support order.

In either case, the parent must demonstrate that they can’t pay the previously agreed upon amount due to unemployment or decreased wages to seek a downward modification of the child support order.

If the parent can show that they are willing to pay at least a fraction of the child support promised earlier, then it might make a good impression with the court. Since the amount of support an unemployed parent can get is highly subjective to the state rules, the circumstances regarding the employment, and the recipient’s financial situation, transparency is of utmost importance.

Unemployment benefits help a parent get back on track. Here’s how services can affect child support.

With Unemployment Benefits

When a non-custodial parent loses their job, they are obligated to notify the state about their unemployment or face penalty or jail time. This will tell them if they are eligible for unemployment benefits. The unemployment office can deduct the child support payments from the parent’s unemployment benefits. The benefits are recalculated according to the weekly or biweekly financial support that the unemployed parent might receive.

Without Benefits

If the parent is not eligible for unemployment benefits, then it is best to work with the family court on the best steps forward. It is always good to have a record of your job searches for posterity. Suppose the parents are not drawing unemployment benefits because they are out of work voluntarily. In that case, the court will decide how much child support he or she must pay based on imputed income – a nominal figure that the court deems fit for you to pay.

How are child’s health benefits affected?

Most child support also covers health insurance for the child. So, if a parent loses their job, the health insurance stops. It is essential for the non-custodial parent to discuss these issues with the custodial parent to make sure the child’s health benefits don’t stop. The custodial parent might tie the child’s insurance to their own or seek a federally funded insurance plan.

Child Support Depends on Other Factors

Child support does not just depend on the availability of a job. Child support can be paid from various sources such as severance pay, unemployment payments, disability, and workers’ compensation benefits, among others.

Consider all these factors when applying for the modification. Ensure the court is aware of all these factors so that the court knows your circumstances have genuinely changed and you are not trying to dodge out of your child support. Modification for alimony and child support in times of unemployment are not separate. Both parties should be equally invested to be able to find ways to mitigate the situation.


When a parent has been ordered to pay child support, it is his or her responsibility to make those payments each month. Laid off or unemployed parents who take swift action during the pandemic to resolve their child support issues are likely to reap more benefits than people who wait for the situation to get out of control.

About Beth W. Barbosa

Beth W. Barbosa is a family law attorney in Edina, Minnesota who represents family law clients in the seven-county metro area. With over 20 years of high-profile experience as a family law attorney, Beth W. Barbosa focuses on high-asset divorces, gray divorces, child custody, co-parenting, and more.

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