What to Do If You Cannot Afford to Pay Child Support
Not all cases of a parent failing to pay child support involve “deadbeat” parents who are trying to shirk their financial responsibility. Sometimes, a parent cannot afford the payments due to circumstances that are out of their control, such as:
- Losing their job
- Suffering an injury that prevents them from working
- Being forced to make a major purchase or go into debt because of an emergency
If you find yourself unable to keep up with your child support payments, you need to present the problem in court and see if you can reduce your payments.
What Not to Do
You can be found in contempt of a court order if you do not pay child support, even if you cannot afford the payments. Do not assume that it is okay to miss a payment without saying anything to your co-parent. Regardless of your financial means, you are still knowingly violating your child support order. You should also avoid creating an informal agreement with your co-parent where you reduce your child support payments or defer payment. A family law court will not recognize changes to your child support payments that are made outside of the court-approved order. An informal agreement will likely not protect you if your co-parent files a complaint against you for not paying child support.
What to Do
If you cannot afford your current child support payments, the only solution is to request a modification of your child support order in court. Illinois allows you to modify your child support payments if:
- You can prove a significant change in your financial circumstances; or
- Three years have passed since the order was created or last modified.
Illinois calculates child support based on the parents’ combined incomes and the amount of money it believes is necessary to pay for child-related expenses. It will not reduce your child support obligation unless you can prove that your income has greatly decreased since you created the child support order or that you cannot realistically keep up with the payments. You need to present your income and expense records for the past several months as evidence of your claim.
Contact a Batavia, Illinois, Family Law Attorney
Your request to modify your child support order may go smoothly if your co-parent agrees to the modification. However, they are likely to contest any attempt to reduce your child support payments. You can prepare for filing your petition by working with a Kane County family law lawyer at Van Larson Law, P.C. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-879-9090.