Children can be one of the most complicated factors when it comes to the dissolution of a marriage. The needs of the children must legally be met, regardless of whether or not the parents are still married to one another.
Financial support in the form of child support payments are usually a part of any divorce involving children. There are some circumstances where the parent without physical custody cannot afford child support payments as a result of unemployment. These situations are unique, and will require the expert navigation of an experienced attorney.
Unemployment During the Divorce
Unemployment can be handled by the court in many different ways, depending on how far divorce proceedings have advanced. If a spouse becomes unemployed while the divorce is still being settled, a judge can opt to use previous income history or earning potential for that parent to calculate child support payments.
The court assumes that the unemployment will be temporary, and imputes the information needed to determine a fair and equitable child support arrangement. The needs of the child will always come first, and unemployment can not be used as justification to absolve a parent of his or her child support obligations.
Unemployment After the Divorce
Once a divorce decree has been issued and a judge has finalized child support payments, parents are legally obligated to abide by the payment schedule put forth by the court. Unemployment does not serve as grounds for missing child support payments.
Many people make the mistake of trying to strike a deal with their former spouse to pay what they can, then begin making full payments once full-time employment is retained once again. You must avoid these types of arrangements at all costs. Any partial or full child support payments that are missed can give your former spouse grounds to file a contempt case against you.
Instead of working with your former spouse, work with an experienced attorney to modify your divorce decree to reflect your updated ability to pay child support. Going through the proper legal channels will help you avoid potential complications involving child support arrears in the future.
Child support is a cornerstone in many divorces. You need to understand that just because you may be unemployed, you are still obligated to pay the child support amount set forth in your decree. Talk with an experienced family law attorney if you need more information on unemployment and child support.