Losing a job is a stressful, nerve-wracking experience. You aren’t sure how you’re going to pay all your bills, or how quickly you may find another job. If you’re responsible for paying child support, your worries may go up to a whole other level. How will you pay your bills and support your child?
If you’ve lost your job, depending on the reason, duration, and other circumstances, you may be eligible for an adjustment in your child support. Here are some typical conditions our clients run into when there is a job loss:
If You Were Laid Off
Getting laid off from your job is often a condition that can trigger a modification of child support. Any severance package, back pay, or unemployment benefits you received upon being laid off is eligible to be calculated in the child support modification, but if you overall expect to be out of work for a while or expect that any job you find will cause a decrease in your prior salary, your child support obligation may be decreased. 
To proceed with a modification of child support, either contact your attorney or file a Petition to Modify with the court in the county where your child support case is located. Any modification to your child support will be dated from the day you file your petition, not the day you lost your job, so prompt filing is important.
If You Were Fired
Depending on the conditions of your termination, you may still be ordered to pay your customary child support despite your decrease in income. The only way to determine whether your child support obligation will decrease is to file a Petition to Modify and have your case heard before a judge.
If You’ve Voluntarily Taken a Pay Decrease
Again, this situation is going to rely greatly upon the circumstances of your pay cut and the judge. If you’ve taken a lower-paying job to go back to school, a lower-paying job is all you can find after much searching, or switch careers for better opportunities, the judge may be more likely to grant your Petition to Modify. However, taking a lower-paying job is always risky, as some judges see this as an attempt to get out of paying a court-ordered amount of child support. Talking with your attorney and having a great deal of supporting evidence as to why a pay cut was the only logical option for you is important in these cases.
If You’re Disabled or Ill
Just because you’ve stopped working, even as the result of illness or injury, doesn’t mean your obligation to pay child support stops. If you’re receiving disability or workers’ compensation benefits as a result of your disability, you are expected to pay child support out of these benefits. However, you can still apply for a modification in the event that your disability is long-term or permanent and your benefits do not match up to your pre-disability income. 
In Every Situation
Regardless of the reason for your job loss or income change, continue to pay your full child support obligation as long as you are able. Any modification will be made effective to the date you filed the Petition to Modify, not the date you lost your job or your income changed. To avoid being in arrears on child support and having to pay back a large amount of money, do not change the amount of child support unless a judge tells you to.
Additionally, if you have a significant change in circumstances that may decrease your support obligation, consult with your lawyer and file a Petition to Modify as soon as possible. That way, if you are granted a decrease in child support, there is less time when you’re paying your old amount even if you’ve lost income.
Child Support Modification Attorneys in Central Maryland
If you’ve recently had a change in income, the experienced family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Sandra Guzman-Salvado can help you through the sometimes complex child support modification process. From filing petitions through final orders, we give you the advice you need and deserve while advocating tirelessly for your best interests. Schedule your consultation today!
 “Child Support Questions & Answers,” Maryland Child Support Administration.