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What Impact Does Unemployment Have on Child Support?

July 31, 2021 Uncategorized

What Impact Does Unemployment Have on Child Support?

For separating spouses, child support can be a difficult and controversial issue, under normal circumstances. Their employment and salary histories are examined, and the amount each parent should contribute to their child’s well-being is calculated. Both parents may owe child support, although the noncustodial parent is usually the one who pays.

The custodial parent, who has physical custody of the child, relies greatly on the noncustodial parent’s financial support to help meet the child’s requirements. But what if this parent is unable to work or becomes unable to work while the child support order is in place? When the parent who is largely responsible for child support loses his or her job, there are a variety of repercussions and concerns to consider.

What is the formula for calculating child support?

Let’s talk about how child support is calculated before we get into how unemployment affects it. Typically, the first step is to assess both parents’ net disposable income (the difference between their incomes).

Salaries, commissions, military pensions, Social Security payments, and yes, unemployment benefits all count in gross income. If a parent tries to cut their income deliberately by working less, quitting, or refusing to work, the court is likely to impute their income. This indicates that the parent’s expected income will be factored into the overall child support computation. – Deductions are applied once the gross income has been computed.

State and federal income taxes, union dues (if required), health insurance premiums, and other expenses may be included. In addition to these deductions, other relevant costs such as the child’s medical treatment, childcare, and other expenses should be documented for the court to consider.

The child support calculator analyzes all of these numbers to come up with a monthly support payment estimate. Of course, if the child has special requirements or if visitation travel fees are incurred, the court has the authority to compel additional payment.

Unemployment, both involuntary and voluntary

When a parent who is currently paying child support becomes unemployed, the obligation does not become null and void. To obtain relief from a child support order, the unemployed parent must submit for a child support modification and prove that their unemployment is unavoidable. A judge may grant a lower order for the unemployed parent if the case is successful.

Involuntary unemployment is defined by the courts as a situation in which a parent has lost their job for a valid reason and is unable to find new work despite reasonable job-search efforts. This refers to cases in which a parent has been laid off, sacked without cause, downsized, or had their job eliminated.

It’s vital to understand that the courts do not consider the following causes for unemployment to be legitimate:

  • Losing your job due to misbehavior or unlawful action
  • Quitting voluntarily for an early retirement
  • Quitting voluntarily to return to school
  • Quitting voluntarily for any other reason

If you are unemployed for any of the reasons listed above, the court will most likely judge you to be unemployed voluntarily. If this is the case, a judge may impute your income, taking into account the most recent pay or income you received.

Inadvertent Underemployment

A parent who earns less money than they should will be taken into account by the court. This is accomplished by examining his or her employment history and credentials to see if they are underpaying themselves. This is referred to as voluntary underemployment, and it might take the form of a voluntary pay decrease or a reduction in work hours.

Unfortunately, parents who are attempting to change occupations by accepting entry-level positions that pay less than their previous positions may be regarded voluntarily underemployed. The court will consider the parent’s motivation for changing careers, but the impact on the child will take precedence.

If a court concludes that a parent is voluntarily underemployed, their earnings are imputed in the best interests of the child.

Garnishment of Unemployment Checks

If you have a child support order in place and are unemployed, your obligation will remain the same until you can obtain a child support modification. If you fall behind on payments, the state will withhold your unemployment benefits and keep doing so until your debts are fully paid.

If you’re unemployed, you should look into getting a child support modification, which can help you minimize your debt so you don’t get into too much trouble while you’re looking for work.


Spodek Law Group is here to assist customers with all aspects of family law, particularly divorce and child support. We recognize how important it is to have your rights in these matters defended, especially if you or your ex-spouse has suddenly lost a job.



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