Tonight’s post about promptly acting to modify your child support was written by our Savannah Family Law Attorney, David Purvis.
The divorce is final. Child custody and visitation rights have been determined. One parent is ordered to pay child support. For purposes of this hypothetical, let’s say Dad pays Mom child support primarily based on the parents’ incomes at the time of the divorce. Back then, Dad was in making a good money.
Several years have gone by. The parents have been co-parenting well together. Suddenly, Dad finds himself unemployed. Dad doesn’t immediately panic, though. Dad’s sure he will quickly find a good job. Dad was always saved and has enough held back to satisfy all of his financial obligations for several months, including his child support.
So, Dad doesn’t seek to lower his child support through the court and continues to make his support payments pursuant to the original order, not wanting to upset the apple cart with Mom.
Fast forward a few more months. Dad still hasn’t found a comparable job. His savings have dried up and he’s now fallen behind on his child support obligation. Mom has asked Child Support Enforcement for help. Now they are pursuing Dad and demanding immediate payment of the past due child support payments or Dad will lose his driver’s license or even face jail time.
Now, in the eleventh hour, looking at a dire outcome, Dad finally asks the court to downwardly modify his child support so that he can actually afford it.
The justice system can be, and often is, a very slow moving machine. In some counties it can take many months to get a case pushed through to resolution. Had Dad initiated the modification of his child support obligation back when his employment was terminated, he could have continued making his child support obligation in full AND gotten his case filed and probably concluded before he landed on such desperate times. Dad’s prompt filing is also a good defense for when Mom or the Government comes calling, claiming that Dad is in contempt for not paying.
The moral of the story? Don’t wait! This scenario is not at all uncommon. I see many Dads and Moms who soldier on with their child support obligation after they’ve hit a rough patch, hoping that things will turn around. And when things don’t turn around fast enough, fall further behind on a child support obligation that is now pulling them underwater.
Don’t drown. Don’t even waste much time flailing. The law provides a life buoy. Reach for it.