People lose their jobs for all kinds of reasons. Often, they lose their job because the company they work for is downsizing, files bankruptcy, moves out of state or out of the country or shuts down. And since the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) of 2020, millions of Americans have found themselves suddenly out of work.
On June 4, 2020, the Texas Tribune published a story on how the Texas Workforce Commission was inundated by millions of Texans filing claims for unemployment benefits. There were so many incoming calls, the agency added four external call centers and hired staff so they’d have more than 1,000 workers to take calls from applicants.
“But months into the coronavirus pandemic, an unknown number of Texans are still living in the dark about when — or if — payments are coming as they face busy signals, confusing communication or no word at all. Meanwhile, they are staring down mounting bills coming due,” Clare Proctor wrote for the Tribune.
Given the poor state of our economy and the surge in unemployment, a lot of noncustodial parents are asking our attorneys, “Does my child support obligation stop temporarily while I’m unemployed?” The answer...may surprise you.
No Break for Paying Parents
When the American economy took a hard hit due to COVID-19, many lenders stepped up and did what they could do to help provide some debtors with relief; for example, many credit card companies and banks that issued auto loans were letting people skip payments. While this relief was welcomed by many, child support agencies are not offering the same leniency.
Child support does NOT stop if a paying parent becomes unemployed. In fact, the obligation does not end if the parent becomes disabled, terminally ill, mentally ill, or incarcerated. The only way a parent is relieved of the obligation to support their child is if their parental rights are terminated.
Child support can be taken from unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation, and Social Security Disability. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, however, are untouchable. If you lost your job, you want to act fast and have an attorney petition the court for a downward modification. Since child support is not retroactive, it only changes once a judge says it does. A judge cannot go back and reduce what you owe.
For help with a child support matter, contact The Law Office of Gregory C. Goline, PLLC.