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Can Child Support Be Modified if a Parent Loses Their Job?

Posted on in Family Law

Oconomowoc Parenting Time LawyerThe loss of a job is a difficult event for any family to endure. When a person experiences a reduction in their income, they may struggle to meet their own needs, and they may also be unable to make child support payments as required following a divorce or family law case. In cases where a parent who is paying child support loses their job, it is important to determine whether child support payments may be modified and the procedures for doing so. 

Child Support Modifications

In Wisconsin, child support is typically calculated using a percentage of the non-custodial parent's income. Following the loss of a job, a person may be unable to meet the obligations that had been put in place based on the income they earned when child support was originally calculated. However, modification of child support is not automatic. A parent will continue to owe child support, as well as interest on any missed payments, and these obligations will not change until a family court judge issues a modified child support order.

There are a few situations where modifications to child support may be appropriate, including when a parent has experienced a "substantial change in circumstances." The loss of a job will usually qualify as a substantial change, and a parent may make sure this issue will be addressed correctly by filing a petition to modify child support. A hearing will usually be held to determine whether child support modifications will be appropriate. A judge may decide to temporarily reduce the amount of a person's payments, or a permanent change may be made if a parent has experienced issues that affect their income-earning capacity, such as a disability. 

The court will consider several factors when determining whether to modify child support payments, including:

  • The reason for the job loss, such as a layoff, a termination with cause, or voluntarily quitting

  • The length of time the parent has been unemployed

  • The parent's efforts to find new employment 

  • The current financial situation of both parents

If a judge finds that a person's job loss was voluntary or that they are not making a good-faith effort to find new employment, they may deny the request for modification. In these cases, any child support that was owed must be paid, and ongoing obligations will continue to apply. However, if a judge finds that a person's job loss was due to no fault of their own and that they are actively looking for work, a request to lower child support payments may be granted, and this modification may apply to any payments following the date that the petition to modify child support was filed. However, modifications will usually be temporary, and once a parent is able to obtain employment, child support obligations may be recalculated based on their new income level.

Contact Our Waukesha Child Support Modification Attorneys

If you are a divorced parent who has lost your job or experienced a decrease in income, you may be unsure about the steps you will need to take to address your child support obligations. While it is possible to modify child support in Wisconsin if there has been a change in circumstances, you will need to act quickly to avoid potential penalties. If you think you may be eligible for a modification, reach out to an experienced Brookfield child support lawyer at Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP. We can help you determine your best options, and we will provide you with representation to ensure that the proper modifications will be put in place. Call us today at 262-232-6699 to set up a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/files/publications/pdf/861.pdf

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/document/statutes/767.59

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