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3 steps to take if you cannot afford child support

Your child support order exists to provide your kids with the financial assistance they need to live comfortably. Unfortunately, the payments are not always feasible. You may have a hard time paying child support, especially if you are dealing with a job loss or unexpected expense.

If you cannot afford the child support payments, you may fear to be in contempt of court. It is possible for you to face legal ramifications such as wage garnishments and property liens. Here are some steps you should take to resolve this situation before it gets out of hand.

1. Talk to the other parent

The best-case scenario is that you and your ex-spouse are able to come to an alternative agreement to the original child support order. If your ex understands your situation, you may be able to reduce the amount you owe in a mutual agreement. Negotiating one-on-one with the other parent is best, but sometimes it is not possible if your relationship is contentious.

2. Request a modification

Whether you are able to communicate with the custodial parent or not, the next necessary step is to file a modification request. You will submit this document to the child support enforcement office. You will need to provide proof that the existing payment plan is no longer practical, such as a substantial change in financial circumstances. 

3. Consider bankruptcy

If you are unable to reduce the payments and are falling behind on your bills, you may start encountering serious consequences. While bankruptcy cannot stop wage garnishments for child support, it does keep other creditors from being able to garnish your wages. Once you have eliminated your unsecured and secured debts through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, making your child support payments may no longer be a challenge.

It is crucial to take these actions as soon as you start seeing trouble. The sooner you speak with your ex and seek a modification, the better chance you have of resolving the issue before it gets worse.

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