Do You Still Have to Pay Child Support if You’re Unemployed – Missouri?
Do you still have to pay child support if you’re unemployed in Missouri? The Carson Law Firm has the answers you seek. Contact us now for legal consultation.
Child Support and Unemployment: What You Need To Know
Paying child support while unemployed can be very stressful. Getting laid off is always difficult, but it’s more so for a parent who pays child support. You may be wondering if you no longer need to make child support payments since you have no income. However, losing your job does not free you from your child support obligation. You are still legally required to pay support for your child as mandated in the court order.
However, how much child support you pay depends largely on your income. The Missouri Child Support Guidelines consider various factors, such as:
Both parents’ incomes
The number of children
The custody arrangement
The cost of health insurance and care
These factors are used to calculate each parent’s basic child support obligations. It is then adjusted based on how much time each parent spends with the child.
So, while unemployment does not cancel your child support obligations, it is a strong reason to request a modification to your child support order.
How Child Support Modification Works in Unemployment Cases
Missouri child support laws allow non-custodial parents to request a modification to their child support order every three years or under special circumstances. Becoming unemployed causes a major drop in one’s income, and it thus constitutes a special circumstance.
Generally, the court will consider whether the unemployment is voluntary or involuntary to assess if you are purposefully trying to avoid paying child support. They’ll also focus on whether you are actively looking for work.
If you were laid off, the court would generally grant your request and adjust the amount of child support to your current income level. However, if you decided to leave your job without having another one lined up, the court may not lower your child support payments. Similarly, if the other parent who is receiving the child support payments quits their job, they cannot expect more child support from you.
The court may use imputed income for child support calculation in these cases. Imputed income estimates what a parent could earn if they were working. For example, if a parent does not have a lot of work experience, the court may set their income at 75 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
What You Need to Do Before Requesting a Child Support Modification
Losing your job while having child support obligations can be a challenging situation. Here are a few steps you can take to improve your chances of getting a new child support order:
- Actively search for a new job: Finding a new job is helpful regardless of your child support commitments. However, it is very important to be actively looking for a job and be able to prove it when you are planning to request a child support modification.
- Document your job search efforts: Keep notes of all job search-related activities. These include calls, emails, applications, and interviews. Document your efforts by the hour and day of the week. This will be instrumental in demonstrating your commitment to finding employment and that you aren’t purposefully unemployed.
- Inform the custodial parent: Notify the other parent that you’ve lost your job and that you may struggle to meet your monthly obligations. Make it clear that you’re actively seeking a job to fulfill your child support obligation.
- Keep paying your dues: You should contribute toward your child’s physical and emotional needs despite your unemployment. Even if it’s lower than the required child support payment amount, it shows your commitment to fulfilling your responsibilities.
- Explore benefits: While seeking employment, consider if you are eligible for Social Security benefits. You could be eligible for unemployment compensation to help support your child.
- Consult a family law attorney: it’s advisable to consult with a legal professional for guidance tailored to your specific situation. A qualified family law attorney will explain and guide you through the child custody modification proceedings.
How to Request Child Support Modification in Missouri?
If you wish to request your child support order, you can request a modification either through court or the Family Support Division (FSD). You can also start the FSD process and then go to court at any point if you and the other parent do not agree.
Here’s how the FSD process works:
Send a written request to FSD at P.O. Box 6790 Jefferson City, MO 65102-6790 or fax it to 573-635-7545.
Complete a Financial and Informational Statement, which may require information about your income and your child’s health insurance. The FSD will either deny or grant your request based on your answers. If denied, you can file a motion with the court.
If your request is granted, the FSD will send you, the other parent, and all parties involved a modification proposal.
You and the other parent can either agree to the proposed modification or request an administrative hearing within 30 days.
If you request a hearing, you must present evidence that supports your modification request.
The hearing officer will issue a decision and order within 3-4 weeks. Both parents must agree with the hearing officer’s decision or file a motion for court review.
If you and the other parent agree, the FSD will send the proposed modification to the Attorney General’s Office for approval or correction. Then, they will file a motion with the court for review.
The court will decide whether to review the proposed change. If approved, the court will review the modification. If not, the case can go to trial.
You and the other parent will receive legal documents about the change.
The process ends when a judge signs the new child support order. The FSD will update your child support case and the payment amount.
How The Carson Law Firm Can Help With Child Support Cases
It is wise to consult a skilled attorney in any child support matter. Even if you and your ex-partner are on good terms, things can change and require legal support. A child support attorney can help you in the following ways:
- Guiding you through the process: We can explain the steps, answer your questions, and help you with paperwork.
- Understanding your rights: We inform you of your legal rights as a parent. We also advise you on possible child support modifications.
- Assessing your case: Our attorneys can review your situation and estimate child support payments.
- Negotiating child support payments: We negotiate for child support payments that work for you and your current situation.
- Represent your best interests: We ensure fair outcomes and prevent unnecessary stress for you and your child.
- Handling complex and modification cases: We deal with complications that may affect your child support arrangements.
Contact us at The Carson Law Firm for help with your child support modification request. If you have questions regarding grandparents and child support matters, we are here for you.