How Unemployment Impacts Child Support


It can be frightening to lose your job, especially when you have children to support. If you become unemployed for an extended period of time, it can make it difficult for you to keep up your child support payments. If you’re a noncustodial parent, you should be aware that your child support order will remain in effect, even if you become unemployed.

Both parents are obligated to financially support their children whether they are married or not. A parent’s obligation to support their children does not change if they suffer from a serious mental illness, if they become disabled, terminally ill, incarcerated, or unemployed. This is because children need child support to ensure their basic needs are met.

What if I Lose My Job?

If you have lost your job or if you’re afraid you’re going to lose it soon due to downsizing, layoffs, an acquisition, or for another reason, you’ll want to understand how unemployment affects your child support obligation and what you can do about it.

As a noncustodial parent with an active child support order, if you lose your job, it won’t change your child support obligation, at least not unless you petition the court for a downward modification.

If you skip payments, you’ll still have to pay them eventually, only you could be charged interest and you could be found in contempt of court, which could lead to fines and possible jail time, however, this is a last ditch effort by the courts.

Can Child Support Take My Unemployment Pay?

If you’re eligible for unemployment benefits, you should know that child support can be taken directly out of your unemployment check. Up to 50% of unemployment earnings can be withheld if you have child support obligations.┬áIt can also be taken out of workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits. Child support cannot, however, be garnished from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – this benefit is untouchable.

If you have lost your job and you’re having difficulty paying your current child support obligation, our advice is to contact our office to explore the possibility of a downward modification, which would reflect your current financial circumstances.

If you start receiving unemployment benefits but you don’t go to court, your regular payment will be deducted from the benefits to pay child support. If that is more than you can afford, it’s best to find out if the court would modify it since your unemployment benefits are less than your regular income.

To learn more about child support modifications, please contact the Law Firm of Johnson & Gaskill PLLC at (832) 210-1698.

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