Help is out there if you are a noncustodial parent who is struggling to make child support payments you cannot afford.
You may qualify for a modification of child support if your income has dropped because of employment issues or disability. If you have low to moderate income, organizations are ready and willing to help you get your court papers together.
A Court Order Is Required
You may not be able to pay the same bills as when you were working if you've recently lost your job and haven't found another. Even if your ex-spouse agrees to accept reduced child support payments until you find a new position, you will still need an order from the court to make your agreement official.
No matter what your spouse says, any portion of the ordered support that remains unpaid constitutes debt in the eyes of the law. You can be hit with a lawsuit for back child support if you don't ask for a new court order that officially modifies the amount of your child support obligation.
Moving for Modification
You must file papers with the court to obtain modification of a child support order. You must generally show that you've suffered a significant change in circumstances; a job loss or income reduction can qualify.
If your spouse is in agreement, you can jointly approach the court and you'll likely be granted a modification. Otherwise, you'll have to prepare papers describing the change in circumstances to justify modification of the order. You don't have to do this alone.
Organizations that Provide Legal Assistance
Some organizations will assist you in preparing documents related to child support payments. People with modest incomes can count on LawHelp.org for referrals and guidance. This is a not-for-profit organization that can set you up with names and contact information for low-cost legal assistance within your state.
LawHelp.org provides referrals to local legal aid and public interest law offices. It offers information about your legal rights, provides court forms and information, and links to low-cost legal help and social service agencies in your state.
Legal Aid Societies
Legal aid societies are funded by the federal government or private organizations. There are offices in every state. You can find the legal aid office nearest you by visiting the National Center for State Courts' website.
Legal aid offices provide legal help in family law and child support matters to low and moderate income persons. In some state offices, experienced attorneys are available to assist you.