What If I Can’t Afford to Pay Child Support?

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Unfortunately, life is unpredictable, and circumstances can change at a moment’s notice. If you’re laid off and unemployed or your business isn’t making any money, you may not have enough income to fulfill your child support obligations. In Massachusetts, parents are responsible for financially supporting their children until emancipation. If you’ve been ordered to pay child support, it must be paid. Failure to pay support can result in hefty fines, contempt of court, and even jail time. Fortunately, requesting a modification to your existing court order is possible. However, a modification can only be achieved if there is a substantial change in your circumstances. Please continue reading to learn the steps you should take if you can’t afford child support and how our proficient Bristol County Child Support Lawyers can help guide you through the process ahead. 

What Can I Do If I Can’t Afford My Child Support?

If you’re a non-custodial parent, you will likely have to make monthly payments to support your children financially. The non-custodial parent is responsible for paying more to cover the additional costs incurred by the custodial parent. Failing to make payments, late payments, and partial child support payments can all result in steep penalties. If you can’t afford your current child support payments, taking immediate action is crucial to prevent harsh penalties.

If your financial situation suddenly changes and you can no longer afford monthly child support, you can petition the court to modify your existing child support order. Even if your child’s other parents have agreed to a modification of child support outside of court, you will still need to go before a judge before the child support order can be changed. It’s crucial to understand that child support orders will remain in place until either parent makes a formal modification request with the court. The judge will examine the current child support order, look at the change in circumstances, and review the financial statements provided by each party. In addition, they will look at how much time the child lives with each parent, the children’s ages, and other factors to determine whether they should grant a modification.

Will I Have to Pay Back Support After a Modification?

If the court determines that the change in your financial circumstances warrants modifying the existing court order, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for past-due child support payments. Child support modifications only change your future obligations, not your past payments. Therefore, even if you successfully petition to modify your payments, you will still have to pay any arrears and additional fines and penalties you may incur.

If you can no longer afford your child support payments, please don’t hesitate to contact a determined lawyer from The Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C., who can help you protect your rights and interests.