10 Oct I Can’t Afford to Pay Child Support. What Can I Do?
Child support obligations in South Carolina are based on your income but do not take certain factors into account (such as outstanding debts or extenuating circumstances). Financial setbacks happen to the best of us. So what happens if you can’t afford to pay child support? If you are no longer in the financial position you were in when your child support order was established, there are options available to you.
If You Are Facing A Temporary Hardship
Every parent has an obligation to support his children. This obligation is considered so important, it cannot be eschewed by traditional means. If you can’t afford to pay child support, arrears are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Your support obligations cannot be cancelled by relinquishing your parental rights, unless the child is adopted by someone else. Nonpayment of child support could even land you in jail. When you are temporarily strapped for cash, child support should remain at the top of your priority list, because fines and court costs can make it far more expensive should you fall behind.
If you can’t afford to pay child support due to a short-term problem, talk to your child’s other parent. Most families appreciate the heads up and will not be so quick to rush to the courts for help if you assure them you will catch up in good faith. South Carolina Department of Social Services sponsors a Fatherhood Program designed to help noncustodial parents struggling to pay child support. You can also request a payment plan through the courts, which may temporarily reduce your payments—although you will still be responsible for paying the full amount owed.
When You Experience A Permanent Change In Circumstances
Some challenges make it difficult to bounce back to your former financial condition in the foreseeable future. For example, a disability might force you into early retirement or permanently working on a part-time basis. If you have experienced a “material change of circumstances” that is likely to last more than a few months, you can petition the court to have your child support obligation reduced. Typically, the court expects to see at least a 25% change in income before it will grant a modification to your child support order. The judge will also want proof that you have made good faith efforts to reduce your living expenses. Keep in mind any overdue child support payments will not be cancelled or prorated to reflect your change in circumstances. However, in recognizing that you can’t afford to pay child support, the courts may allow you to set up a payment plan to bring you up to date, based on your current ability to pay.
Contact A South Carolina Child Support Attorney
If you have experienced a change in circumstances and need to modify your child support order, contact a child support attorney right away. The attorneys at Klok Law Firm LLC in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina can assist you with child support, child custody, paternity, divorce, and other family law matters.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.