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Impact of Unemployment on Child Support


A huge percentage of Americans are living check to check so it can be nerve-wracking when you lose your job, especially if you have children to support. When noncustodial parents lose their jobs, it’s typical for them to stop paying child support immediately or when their savings run out. This is almost an automatic response because child support is based on a noncustodial parent’s income. So, if there’s no income, does that mean there’s no child support? That’s not how it works.

In the United States, both parents are obligated to financially support their children and in California, parents have to support their children until they turn 18, or graduate high school, whichever happens later.

Contrary to popular belief, parents are not relieved of their child support obligation if they are in an accident, are incarcerated, have a severe mental illness, become disabled, have a substance abuse problem, or become unemployed. The ONLY way a parent is off the hook for child support is if their parental rights are terminated.

What if I Lose My Job?

What if you lose your job and there’s no money to pay child support? Well, you’re still responsible for paying child support according to the existing child support order. If there has been a significant change in your circumstances, and unemployment certainly counts, you should immediately petition the court for a downward modification.

“What if I stop paying and I don’t go to court?” In that case, the child support will continue accruing according to the current amount in the order. If you fall too far behind, you will be subject to a variety of unpleasant child support collection measures, such as:

  • Denial of U.S. passport
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Suspension of other licenses, such as business and recreational
  • Bank account levies
  • Real estate liens
  • Wage garnishment
  • Tax refund intercept
  • Negative credit reporting
  • Contempt of court, which can include jail time

“What if I go on unemployment, can child support be taken out of that?” Yes, it can. Child support can be garnished from unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, and Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, but it does not come out of Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

If you’re unemployed, contact Arnold Law Group, APC to get the help you need to gain control over the situation. We can be reached at (559) 900-1263.

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