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What happens if I cannot afford to pay child support?

One issue that some people in the Baton Rouge area do not take into consideration during their divorce until afterward is their ability to pay child support. There are many things that can happen and interfere with a person's ability to make full and timely payments. If your circumstances have changed and you are no longer able to pay the amount specified in your child support order, you should not stop paying. You must make every effort to fulfill the obligation. 

When child support is not paid, the parent who receives it is put at a severe disadvantage. Those payments help them to provide your child with a similar standard of living they were accustomed to before your divorce. 

The penalties for nonpayment of child support are severe. The courts can take any of the following actions to enforce a child support order. 

  • Contempt of court charges
  • Fines
  • Wage garnishment
  • Warrant for arrest
  • Suspension of driving privileges
  • Lien on property 

There are steps you can take when you encounter certain issues that prevent you from adhering to the child support order in your divorce. According to FindLaw, child support adjustments are possible when the courts approve a modification request and if both parents are in agreement. When you first realize you might miss or fall short on payments, you should inform the other parent. Explain your situation to them and ask them if they are willing to accept a lower amount until your income issues are resolved. The other parent does not have to agree to this. 

If the other parent is uncooperative, the next step is for you to file a petition with the courts to have the child support order modified. The law is very strict about enforcing child support orders. It only allows for modification in extreme situations, such as the loss of primary income, medical disability and remarriage where the payer has more children to support. 

It is not uncommon for an individual's financial situation to change after divorce. Regardless of what life events transpire, it is essential for you to make every effort to honor the original agreement until the courts issue a new order. Any unapproved deviations could result in unfavorable consequences.

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