What Do I Do About My Child Support Order if I Lost My Job?

Did you recently lose your job? You are certainly not alone. According to data from the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR), approximately six million people lose or leave their job every month in the United States. Many people are separated from their employment involuntarily and without immediate access to income. 

If you owe money under a child support order, navigating the loss of a job can be especially challenging. There are options to get your child support order modified to account for your current financial situation. In this article, we provide a step-by-step guide to the key things to know about handling a child support order if you recently lost your job. 

How to Deal With Child Support Obligations After Losing Your Job in Washington State

Step #1: Know Your Current Child Support Responsibilities and Your Financial Position

As a starting point, it is important to get yourself organized. Gather all relevant financial and legal documents, records, and information. Make sure you understand your current monthly child support responsibilities, your income, your savings, and your projected income going forward. 

Step #2: Understand that Child Support Responsibilities Have Not Changed—At Least Yet

Washington State law is very clear: If there is a child support order in place, you have an obligation to make the full payment on time, each month. That you lost a job does not entitle you to any automatic relief. The state’s  Division of Child Support (DCS) will continue collection efforts. Notably, if you receive unemployment benefits. DCS can take money out of those benefits for child support. 

Step #3: Take Action to Seek a Modification in Payments (Assuming Financially Necessary) 

Has your child support order been in place for at least 12 months? If so, you have the right to seek a modification—meaning a reduction in the amount that you owe each month—based on the grounds of serious and unexpected economic hardship. The loss of a job can qualify if your monthly income is now materially lower than it was when the child support order was put in place. 

Step #4: Be Ready to Seek Professional Family Law Counsel

Child support modifications are complicated. Even in cases in which there is a clear change in circumstances, such as a job loss, it can be challenging for an obligor (the parent who pays child support) to navigate the process. You do not have to figure everything out alone. An experienced Spokane, WA, child support modification attorney can help you protect your rights. 

Natalie is a writer and researcher who has been supporting the legal industry with her work for years. As the Lead Copyeditor at ONE400, the nation's premier law innovation agency, she's responsible for creating original content and editing articles submitted to the website. She has over five years of professional experience writing and editing across a variety of print and digital platforms. Her work has been featured across a number of legal industry publications and sites.
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