Will My Child Support Be Reduced If I Lost My Job

I lost my job, my income has clearly significantly decreased but will the Magistrate reduce my child support? The answer like most things in law is "maybe". How to change "maybe" into "yes" is the topic of this blog.

A loss of employment will without a doubt permit the filing of a Petition for a Modification of Child Support because the paying parent's income has decreased by more than 15% which therefore gives the parent the right to seek a downward modification. If the job loss is for "cause" which means due to the negative conduct of the employee then a reduction is not very likely. For example, an employee fired for fighting with co-workers, or insubordination, or failing drug/alcohol tests will have a very hard time convincing the Magistrate to ignore the "fault" and grant a reduction.

But what if the job loss is due to the employer reducing staff, or the company is moving out of state or outsourcing the job or closing the line of business then the employee cannot be blamed for any of these unfortunate circumstancest? While highly likely that a modification will be granted, there are circumstances where it is still denied.

So even with good facts as to the reason for the loss of employment there may be further inquiry as to the resources and assets of the paying parent. Imagine the loss of a $100,000 job but the out of work parent has a 401k and other savings of $1,000,000, owns a home with substantial equity, and is current in the payment of the majority of their monthly bills. In other words, the out of work parent is still maintaining a similar lifestyle as existed before the job loss. Compare that to the parent who can't pay their mortgage or is behind on their rent, owes money on credit cards and is getting late payment notices and warnings.

Therefore, it is very important to not just show the job loss but to also document and support the real life effect of the job loss. There is also an obligation to show a diligent job search for similar or other meaningful employment. Keep a list and copies of all job search efforts. If you can use a headhunter do so. If you respond to online job postings on Indeed.com, Monster.Com and Craigslist keep copies of the postings, your emails and the company responses. Keep a list of any interviews and the dates and whether there were any callbacks. Keep a list of all of your networking efforts with current and former co-workers, colleagues and contacts in the line of work that you perform. If you take any classes to update your skills and certifications, keep track and proof of those efforts and your success.

Remember that if you are able to pay most of your bills but the only thing you claim you can't pay is your child support it will be an uphill battle. It is readily winnable as long as you proceed with thought and effort to make a compelling case for the reduction. Consider that if the family had not separated and the job loss took place most families would still try to find a way to meet some of the expenses. The parent who is out of work would not stop buying groceries or feeding their children. However, reducing the non-essential expenses will show a legitimate effort to reduce spending and not just seek a reduction of child support. Finally, the Magistrate will appreciate an attempt to make partial payments rather than a complete refusal to pay any child support.