If you’re a divorced parent who’s facing unemployment, your first concern may be how you’re going to continue to help support your child. That’s an especially pressing issue if you’re the one paying child support.
You may also wonder how your unemployment will affect your parenting rights if you’re sharing custody. Let’s take a look at those two issues.
Changing your child support order
If you’re going to be unable to pay child support on time and in full for even one month (or whatever your child support payment period is), you need to notify the court. Just getting your co-parent’s agreement isn’t enough.
A child support order is legally binding. If you can’t adhere to it, even temporarily, you’re in violation of it. The court will likely agree to a smaller payment temporarily based on whatever income you have, such as unemployment benefits.
While you may dread telling your ex (and your child) about your situation, it’s best to be honest rather than try to continue making payments you can’t afford so that they don’t find out what happened. Everyone loses a job at some point for one reason or another. It shouldn’t be a cause for shame – or an excuse for your ex to speak ill of you to your child or try to take away parenting time.
Modifying your custody or visitation schedule
This may or may not be something to consider. You’re probably focused on finding another job, so you may not want to seek added time with your child just because you are at home more. If your child is used to the schedule that’s in place, it may be best for them if it’s not disrupted.
You can offer to take your child after school rather than having them go to a daycare facility. You could also offer to help out your co-parent in other ways while you have some extra downtime.
Unless your unemployment becomes a long-term situation and you have to move to a place that’s not large enough or appropriate for a child, it shouldn’t affect your parenting rights. Legally, your right to see your child can’t be withheld if you can’t pay child support.
It’s wise to seek legal guidance to ensure that your parenting rights aren’t violated and that you can make the needed adjustments to your agreements until you’re employed again.