How Unemployment Impacts Child Support


Losing your job cannot be very comforting, especially when you have children to support. If you become unemployed for an extended period, keeping up your child support payments can be challenging. If you’re a noncustodial parent, you should know 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 help their children does not change if they suffer from a severe 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 are afraid you’ll lose it soon due to downsizing, layoffs, an acquisition, or 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?

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

Suppose you have lost your job and you’re having difficulty paying your current child support obligation. In that case, we advise contacting our office to explore the possibility of a downward modification, which would reflect your current financial circumstances.

If you start receiving unemployment benefits but 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 determine if the court would modify it since your unemployment benefits are less than your regular income.

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

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