After your divorce, you may find yourself having to pay child support to your ex-spouse. While the Court calculates child support based on your income and overnights, a change in circumstances may arise that makes it difficult or impossible for you to pay the full amount of your child support based on those calculations. So, what should you do if you can no longer afford to pay your child support?
The most important thing for a parent struggling to pay child support is to keep up with child support payments as much as you can. If you can only afford to pay half this month, then pay half. There are several very serious penalties the Court can impose if you completely fail to make your child support payments, including garnishing your wages, putting liens against your property, issuing a warrant for your arrest, and more. Further, Courts are much more willing to work with parents who are making an effort to care for their children than parents who simply stop paying all together.
After discovering you can only pay a portion of your child support, it may be tempting to simply talk to your ex-spouse and come up with an agreement between yourselves. However, this sort of agreement is not legally binding and can result in large fees, interest payments, and other penalties mentioned above. Thus, we recommend you file a Motion to Modify Child Support with the Court ASAP. Through the Motion, you will be able to explain to the Court the change in circumstances that is preventing you from paying the full amount of child support due. If the Court is satisfied that you’ve had a significant enough change in circumstances that affects your ability to pay, the Court will modify and reduce your child support obligations. But what change in circumstances is enough for the Court to reduce your payment?
There are many situations in which there is a sufficient change in circumstances to warrant a reduction is child support. Becoming unemployed or having to pay unexpected medical bills are just two examples of a change in your circumstances that the Court will seriously consider. Your child’s circumstances may also change, warranting a deduction in your child support payments. For instance, as children grow, their expenses tend to increase. If you can show the Court that you cannot keep up with the increased expenses your child is incurring, the Court may reduce your support obligations.
In order to demonstrate that you cannot keep up with child support payments and additional expenses incurred by your child, we recommend you keep a detailed financial record. Within the financial record, you should include all child support payments you have made, as well as all receipts for food, clothing, or activities for your child. If your salary has been reduced, you should also include copies of your old and new paystubs. Lastly, you should include any other unexpected expense you have incurred that are preventing you from paying the full amount of child support. Thus, when the Court hears your Motion to Modify Child Support, you can present strong evidence to show the true costs of raising your child and the full extent of your financial hardships.
For assistance in modifying your child support, please contact Spindler and Associates. We have years of experience and know the laws and court procedures for Wayne, Oakland, Livingston, Genesee and Washtenaw Counties where our attorneys have practiced for years. Contact Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates at 248-676-1000 to schedule a consultation. The Oakland County law office is conveniently located in Milford, Michigan. Our service area includes these communities: Milford, Waterford, Walled Lake, Commerce, Highland, Hartland, White Lake, Commerce, South Lyon, Linden, New Hudson, Wixom, Holly, Fenton, Grand Blanc and many more.