What If I Cannot Afford to Pay Child Support?

How divorce could affect your finances.

A child support system that charges a parent more than he or she can afford to pay is a self-defeating system. The system isn’t perfect, however, and sometimes this does happen. If you find yourself in this situation, you might be asking yourself, what are my options to pay child support?

Child Support Modification

If you truly don’t have the finances to meet your current child support payments, the child support agreement can be reduced in court. However, the court generally only considers child support mollification for parents whose situation has recently changed substantially.

Specifically, courts define a substantial change in income as such. A parent can only ask for a modification to child support payments if it has been three years. In addition, the monthly amount is different by 20 percent or at least 100 dollars from the statutory guidelines.

Other Roadblocks to Modification

All states have something called “anti-retroactive modification laws.” These prevent a parent from reducing child support payments that were past-due. In other words, only future alimony installments can be lessened.

Modifying a child support order is generally a time-consuming process. With it being the case that payments cannot be modified prior to the date of filing a motion in court, it’s best to take immediate action if you start to fall behind in payments.

Even if you are making less money, if you fail to file a request for modification in child support, the court will still require you to pay the original amount. You can file your request for one by reaching out to the Child Support Enforcement Office in the state that the child support order was originally issued.

This process should not be attempted alone, however. You should always consult an attorney to determine which measures are appropriate under your circumstances. An experienced attorney will also know what evidence is important to present in court for a judge’s consideration. This will highly increase your likelihood of convincing the judge to lower the support amount.

Child custody lawyer Jared Julian is also a mediator that can help families resolve disputes. All of our Texas divorce lawyers handle issues involving child custody, divorce, child support and other family law matters.