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I can't make my child support payments! What do I do?

Maybe you've had a life circumstance change that you didn't anticipate -- the loss of a job, or unexpected expenses that have taken a huge bite out of your income. Maybe you agreed to a child support order that was too aggressive to begin with and now you are seeing that it is simply not possible for you to meet all of that obligation on your current income.

There are plenty of reasons why well-meaning parents find that they are simply not able to make their child support payments. It is important to remember that you are not alone, and many, many people have stood exactly where you are standing right now.

Some of those who have been here before you gave up in the face of adversity and simply fell behind or stopped sending child support. Some of them got help and followed the proper procedures to modify their child support order.

You are the only one who can decide which one of these you will be, and the very fact that you're reading this means that you are looking for the good options.

Regardless of why you are having trouble with your payments, there is a proper and improper way to proceed. The best course of action is to request a modification to your child support order, which will legally change your child support obligations and give you the breathing room you need to get back on track while still fulfilling your obligations as a parent.

It's never right to simply stop payments

Many parents come up against hardship and simply stop paying their support. Even worse, some parents use support payments as leverage against the other parent to get things they want.

This is truly unacceptable behavior. Remember, child support is the right of your child, not the right of the other parent. When you withhold payments willingly, you are depriving your child of a right.

Start with an honest conversation

If it is at all possible, attempt to get the other parent to agree to a modification of child support by explaining plainly the nature of your situation. It may be understandably difficult, but the ease in changing a child support order with the consent of the other parent is significantly greater than having it modified through litigation.

If the other parent is not willing to listen to reason, then it is time to petition the court for a modification.

In order to convincingly make a case for your need, you will have to document exactly what has changed and how it has made your child support burden unbearable.

It may not be a simple fight, but you deserve to be treated fairly by the system like anyone else. Even if the other parent does not consent to the change, a court is likely to understand that you cannot be asked to give what you do not have.

Don't wait to act, and don't put off getting the right help

If you become delinquent on your child support, you may face some fairly severe consequences that will make life very difficult - in some cases, even imprisonment.

As soon as you know that you are in a bind, and not just a momentary problem that will be resolved in one or two support cycles, it is wise to move ahead with a modification request.

The guidance of an experienced attorney can help make sure that you are using the system efficiently, and help you pursue your goal while safely navigating the complex landscape of the court system.

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