Am I Allowed to Temporarily Pause Child Support While I Am Unemployed?

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temporarily pause child support

When a couple with children divorce, a court will issue an order for child support to the non-custodial parent. When the initial order for child support is issued, the non-custodial parent may not have any problems making the child support payments. There are unforeseen things that can happen in any person’s life. Many times, people can become unemployed based on nothing they have done. Companies are sold, move, as well as go out of business and more. When this happens, the non-custodial parent may become unemployed for a period of time. They may need to have a temporary pause or reduction in their child support payments until they are able to find another job.

Determining Child Support

There are many different factors taken into consideration when determining the amount of child support a non-custodial parent will be required to pay.

Income – Most guidelines used to determine child support will take into consideration each parent’s income. The next consideration is the percentage of the parent’s combined income in relation to the child’s expenses. The last thing is the non-custodial parent’s living expenses. Some states will calculate a child support payment based on gross income and others will use net income.

Childcare Expenses – Another factor to determine child support is the amount of money required for the custodial parent to pay for childcare. This is so a custodial parent can engage in a job search or have a job. There are states that determine the amount permitted for this cost to be considered as part of the federal dependent care exemption. There are states that offer its residents the opportunity, when filing state income tax, to have child care expenses listed as dependent care exemption. When this happens, the amount of the exemption will also be used to determine the amount of a child support payment.

Deductions – There are some people who will have to pay new child support payments on top of existing child support payments they are already making. In this situation, these people will be permitted to deduct any current child support payments from their income for tax purposes. This deduction will be a factor in determining new child support payments. To qualify for such a deduction, it is necessary for the child support payments to be ordered by a court and not voluntary. It is also necessary for the parent to be current with the child support payments.

Healthcare Expenses – An order for child support will usually determine the non-custodial parent is responsible for paying a child’s healthcare insurance. The amount a non-custodial parent pays for the child’s healthcare will be a factor in determining the amount of direct child support they will be required to pay. Most states have guidelines that require a specified amount of money be added to direct support payment to cover any out-of-pocket expenses associated with healthcare like deductibles and more.

Other Expenses – It is possible a child support order will accommodate any expenses that are out of the ordinary. This could include any special educational needs that are necessary because a child is a special needs child or is gifted. This would include school uniforms, tutors, and boarding school costs as well as lunches and more. All of the costs associated with extended travel for visitation will be equally divided between the parents.

Shared Custody and Visitation – Many courts will use the amount of time a child is going to spend with each parent as a guideline to determine a child support award. The more time a child spends with the non-custodial parent, the more it will cost that parent to provide for the child. There could be circumstances where the custody is shared or one parent has an extended time for visitation. In these situations, child support will be decreased from the amount a non-custodial parent would have to pay. This can be the case if the custodial parent has sole custody and the other parent was initially awarded little visitation.

Change in Circumstances

In order for a person to have a court approve a modification in child support, the non-custodial parent must be able to prove they’ve had a significant change in their circumstances since the original order of child support was issued. This proof must illustrate how the current amount they are required to pay would cause them serious financial harm. The decision to approve a modification in child support will depend on what a court believes is a substantial change in circumstances. This will be determined by the facts of each individual case as well as the applicable state law.

temporarily pause child support

Unintentional Income Decrease

When a court is considering a change in child support payments because of a change in the non-custodial parent’s income, the change is not permitted to have been voluntary. The non-custodial parent is not able to intentionally leave their current employment and believe they will be entitled to pay less in child support. When a non-custodial parent has done this in the past, the courts have issued an imputation of income order. This is when the court determines child support should be based on the income the non-custodial parent had prior to their intentional income reduction.

Child’s Health Benefits

It is usually the responsibility of the non-custodial parent to pay for the child’s health insurance. Should the non-custodial parent become unemployed, there is a chance they will also lose their health insurance. There is a way to continue having health insurance with a program called the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 or COBRA. This program may provide the health insurance a person had at their previous employment but without employer subsidies. This will make it very expensive.

Time Limits

When a non-custodial parent is asking for a modification in child support payments, the process will begin by them filing a petition. Each state has different time requirements covering a modification in child support payments. Some states don’t have time limits but place limitation on the number of modifications a non-custodial parent can request. Other states require three years to pass before any modification in child support payments is considered. There are other states who have no time limitations for requesting a modification for child support payments.

In many situations, the modification of child support payments will depend on several different things. An important aspect is the relationship between the custodial and non-custodial parent. There have been times when the couple has been able to reach an accepted change without the court getting involved. The relationship between other couples has required a court to determine if a child support modification is acceptable and to determine the amount.

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