Protecting What You Value Most

What if I can't pay child support due to the government shutdown?

by | Jan 28, 2019 |

As the second month of the partial government shutdown begins, the financial predicament of income-less federal employees is becoming increasingly dire. Most Americans have less than $400 saved up for a rainy day, so getting by on no income is an extraordinarily difficult endeavor.

The stress of trying to figure out how you’ll pay your mortgage or put food on the table is already serious enough. But what if, on top of that, you also had child support payments to worry about?

The state of Texas is still requiring most federal workers to pay child support during the shutdown. And failure to pay can have long-term consequences–including having your driver’s license suspended, a lien on your property and a lower credit score.

During the shutdown, what can you do when you have looming child support bills, but no money coming in to pay them?

Child support modification

You may be able to file a petition to the court to modify the amount of child support you owe. This is granted in cases where there is a “substantial change in circumstances.” While at first glance, it may seem that a halt on your income would automatically constitute a substantial change, it would be up to the court to decide whether the temporary–yet indefinite–nature of the shutdown qualifies for such a modification.

Child support abatement

If a modification is not possible, another option is to petition the court to abate–or, temporarily suspend–your child support obligations. If granted, it would effectively put your child support responsibilities on hold until you start getting paid again.

It’s important to note that the decision to grant child support modification or abatement rides largely on the judge’s opinion. Therefore, if you are filing such a petition, it’s important to have an experienced family law attorney in your court–who can effectively advocate on your behalf.