Losing your job can be a very stressful situation. If you are obligated to pay child support it can be even more stressful.  But, don’t panic. Just be proactive and come up with a plan.

If you are unemployed and you are obligated to pay child support you cannot just decide not to pay. You have to make arrangements with the court.  That arrangement must be in writing and signed by the Judge.

  1. Inform The Court Why You Are Now Unemployed.

The first thing that you should do if a loss in employment causes you to be unable to make your child support payment in Texas is to contact the Court and the Child Support Division of the Texas Attorney General’s Office. The sooner, the better as a modification in child support payments may only be done by court order. Any delay may raise questions with the Court and make you susceptible to penalties and interest. The Court will request information from you, particularly regarding the reason for your unemployment.

The Court will generally provide leniency as long as you can show that the change of employment was not the result of trying to avoid paying child support.

  1. Request a Modification through Court Order

In order to modify the amount of your Texas child support payment, you will need to formally file a petition requesting a modification, which will hopefully result in a signed order from a Texas family court judge. During this process, you will need to show proof of your decrease in income and develop a plan for getting your payments back on track. Remember – everything must be done through the Court.

If you are unable to afford to hire an attorney, seek assistance from the legal aid office or the Texas Attorney General Child Support Office. But, note that the Texas Attorney General’s Office does not represent you.  They may offer you some assistance, but they are not obligated to help you.

  1. Working Out An Arrangement With The Other Parent is not enough.

If you are unable to make child support payments an informal agreement with the other parent to suspend or modify fees is not enough. Without Court approval, you have no permission to suspend payment.