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I can’t afford my child support payments. What should I do?

As a divorced parent, being away from your children can be difficult, even when it’s just for a few days. You may make every effort to be involved in their lives, including taking advantage of your custody arrangements and making court-ordered support payments. But life can throw you curves sometimes.

An unpredictable event may be making it more difficult for you to comply with the court’s orders for child support. If you have lost your job, suffered a medical emergency or experienced another financial setback, you may be wondering how you will cover your child support obligation. The good news is that you may be able to obtain a support modification that can offer some relief while you get back on your feet.

Taking steps to protect yourself

The other parent of your children may agree, verbally, to temporarily lower the amount of support you pay. However, without a court order, you may have significant legal exposure if your parenting partner changes his or her mind. Plus, any amount of support you fail to pay can accumulate as debt quickly. Bankruptcy does not discharge child support, so a filing will not provide relief if that is the road you choose to take.

In many cases, the better alternative is to take action as quickly as possible after you experience financial difficulties, including following these steps:

  • Learn as much as you can about child support laws in Texas.
  • Inform the other parent of your situation and try to negotiate a lower payment.
  • Continue to pay as much as you can and meet your monthly deadlines to avoid accumulating too much debt.
  • Keep careful documentation of your financial situation, the reasons for your inability to pay and your efforts to keep up with your obligations.
  • File a request with the court for modification of your court-ordered child support.

Getting the help you need

Having legal assistance during this process can prove beneficial, especially if the other parent is not willing to approve a change in your child support amount. An experienced family law attorney will know the relevant information and documentation you can present that will improve your chances of a successful petition for modification. A legal advisor will also know how to take advantage of the laws as they relate to your situation. It can help to have a strong advocate when you present your case to a judge.

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