Thursday, January 21, 2016

Child Support - Due and Owing

Watching the stock market tank, and hearing oil is going bust I am having flashbacks to 2008.  Now I am not too worried about my law practice, because I normally serve low income people.   They can't afford the big firms in the best of times.   A slower economy just means more people needing reasonable priced services.   This post is what to do if the economy tanks again.

This comes up all the time,  "I've been out of work several months, now my license is suspended due to owing back child support, how do I fix that."   Well, you can't.   At least not the owed child support.   In Maryland, you can only modify your child support from the date of filing.   So you if you wait several months to file, the court is not going to go back those several months and adjust it to the new amount.   From the trial date, they will only go back to the date you formally filed the paperwork with the court to ask for a modification.

As soon as you find yourself unemployed, go file for modification.   A letter to child support enforcement is not enough.   You have to formally ask the court for a modification.   If you find a job before trial, great.   Just make sure you formally dismiss the case.   Failing to show up can get attorney's fees awarded to the other side.  

In the meantime, be actively looking for work.    You are going to have to show the court you are not evading your child support obligation by being unemployed for a long period of time.   The court gets it that it might take some time to find a job.   But if you show you are trying, they will work with you.   And trying means lots of applications every week.   An application a week or a a couple of month is not going to cut it.   Looking for a job should be a full time job.  

Make an effort to pay.   If you get unemployment, try to pay at least something out of it.   The courts and child support enforcement are much more willing to work with someone who is making an effort.  The full arrears may not go away, but they will accumulate more slowly.   The court may even cut you a break (don't count it, but it has been known to happen).    

Remember, this money is for your kids.   Just because you are out of work doesn't mean they don't need things like food, clothing, a place to live.   If you don't make your payments, or at least something, it makes it harder for the other parent to provide for them.   And the other parent is probably experiencing the down economy too.