This is a very common question among non-custodial parents who are going through difficult times and fear losing their job. But if you are required to pay child support, your unemployment will not void the order and you’ll still be required to make your payments in the full amount. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do to reduce your payments until you find employment. A lot of unemployed parents feel left out in the rain, but if you play by the rules and act accordingly, you should be okay.

The first thing you need to do upon losing your job is to inform the court that you have lost your job and are unemployed. Do not ignore this important step and make your own arrangements with the custodial parent. Things may seem fine now, but the custodial parent is still entitled to file with the court that you have stopped making payments or that you are not paying the full amount owed. Even if you think it’s more of a hassle to go through the courts, it’s usually just the opposite if you do things the right way and inform the court.

Once you do this, you may be provided a modified custody order as you search for more work. Once you find work, you may be responsible for making up payments not made during your period of unemployment. Remember, the court acts in the best interests of the child and works to make sure that the child is well provided for to the fullest extent possible. If you had not informed the court of your new employment status, though, you would not only be responsible for any missed payments, but could start racking up legal and court fees, too. You might even be ordered to pay your ex-spouse’s court and legal fees.

So if you lose your job for whatever reason, file with the court seeking a modification right away. Any delay and you could end up paying for it in the long run. Unless you receive a permanent modification, you may be responsible for making up any missed payments during this time. But it’s certainly better than the alternative of going to court and being found in violation of the child support order. Speak with a family law attorney regarding your individual case for more specific information about the process of filing for a modification.