When a Florida parent experiences a disability, it can have a serious effect on their family, including a financial impact on child support payments. Support payments are generally calculated on the basis of a statewide formula that is based on a parent’s income. Depending on the parent’s job, disability can lead to a serious loss of income and a change in lifestyle. Many disabled parents are suddenly no longer able to meet their child support obligations.
While disability does not eliminate a parent’s obligation to pay child support, it can lead to changes in a parent’s payments. Parents who cannot return to their original employment or must rely on disability benefits for income may return to family court to seek a modification of their child support obligation based on their current income rather than their pre-disability salary. Even parents with disability insurance may need to seek a support order modification because insurance payments are often significantly less than their regular income. In some cases, the modification may be temporary if the disability itself is temporary. In other cases, it could be permanent if the disability is also permanent.
Just like wages, disability benefits can be garnished to cover unpaid child support. Garnishment for back child support can make it difficult to make ends meet, especially when current payments remain due and parents must rely on disability benefits for their sole income. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits can also be garnished for child support even though they cannot be seized for other debts.
Disabled parents who are unable to pay their court-ordered child support can turn to a family law attorney for help. A lawyer can go to family court to seek a child support modification. Seeking a modification can help to prevent garnishment or other penalties from moving forward.