Why You Cannot Afford to Delay Informing the Court That You Cannot Afford Your Current Child Support Payments

It is all too common for a parent to fall behind in their court-ordered child support payments and then find themselves facing a contempt petition, along with a large arrearage and interest balance. It is also not uncommon to find out that the parent could not afford to make the missed payments due to a reduction in their income, yet this income change was never reported to the court. Often, the first time a judge hears about an income change that led to the thousands of dollars in unpaid child support and interest is when a parent is forced into court to respond to a contempt petition regarding their non-payment. Unfortunately, informing the court of the circumstances that led to the missed payments months (and sometimes years) after the payments were due will not reduce a child support arrearage and interest balance that has already accrued. Unless and until a parent notifies the court of a material change in their financial situation and requests a modification in their child support obligation, they will be responsible for paying the amount in the original order. This is why it is so important to notify the court of any material changes in circumstances and request a modification of the current child support order as soon as possible after the change occurs. Even though you may not be able to afford your current child support payments, you certainly can’t afford to delay informing the court of the reason you can’t afford the payments and request the current child support order be modified based on your current income, not your income at the time the order was originally entered.