DiLorenzo & Rush | Counselors of Law
Stepping Up & Standing Out

What can you do if you can’t afford to pay your child support?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2023 | Family Law

It isn’t easy to go through the process of establishing a child support order in New Jersey. If you were married, child support was just one of many issues you had to work out in the divorce process. If you weren’t married, you may have had to go through the process of establishing paternity.

Either way, once you calculated how much you could afford to pay and how much your child needed, and the court approved the order, you thought you could rest easy and not deal with the legal system again for a while. Maybe it wasn’t always easy, but you made your payments on time settled into a pattern.

Of course, life has a way of throwing us curveballs when we least expect them.

If you have lost your job or experienced some other type of financial setback, you can suddenly find that keeping up with your child support payments has become impossible. If you fall behind on your payments, the amount you owe can quickly pile up and become a mountain of debt.

Some parents think of this as an issue between themselves and their ex, but that is not the case. This is between them and the state of New Jersey, and the state has many ways to enforce child support orders when parents have fallen behind. These include:

  • Garnishing your wages
  • Taking part of your tax refund
  • Reporting you to credit bureaus
  • Seizing property
  • Denying your professional license
  • Denying your passport

The above are just some of the tools at the state’s disposal. In some cases, the police may even get an arrest warrant to go after parents who have fallen behind on their child support.

A better way

These enforcement actions aren’t good for anyone. Obviously, it isn’t going to help you pay for your child’s care if you are unable to make a living.

There is a better way to deal with this problem: Request a modification of your child support order.

Remember that when you calculated the amount you must pay, one of the factors was your income. If you income has significantly changed for the worse, you may be able to convince the court to modify your order.

Modifying a child support order isn’t necessarily easy. A lot depends on the unique circumstances of your case and your child’s needs. Attorneys help parents understand their options and guide them through the process.