Losing a job is stressful for many reasons, but especially so if you are responsible for paying — or if you’re receiving — child support. How your unemployment affects your child support payments depends on your individual situation. However, one thing is certain: Nebraska courts take child support obligations very seriously, so you shouldn’t believe that you can get your support order modified immediately because of a job loss.
If you have lost your job and have child support obligations, you should work to find another job immediately. The court can assign an income level to you based on your previous salary if it finds that you could be working or if you take a job that pays substantially less than your previous job. If you are going to claim there are no jobs available, the court will want proof that you have conducted a serious effort to find a new job comparable to your old one.
If you are unemployed due to a disability, you will need to provide proof of your disability — medical records, expert testimony, or proof of workers comp — to the court. The court will then modify child support payments based on your disability income. You should be aware that support payments can be deducted from unemployment or worker’s comp benefits and sent directly to your ex-spouse.
Sometimes a job loss can support a motion for modification of your child support order. There is a legal standard that must be met to prove a parent is experiencing a “material change of circumstances.” This change must have lasted at least three months and can reasonably be expected to last for another six months. The material change must also affect your child support calculation by 10% (up or down) and the difference between the existing and new calculation must total at least $25.
It is important to follow the proper procedures to avoid facing a contempt order for violating the terms of the original court order. Your Nebraska child support attorney is the best resource for providing you with the information you need to proceed with a proper modification of support request. He or she will be able to guide you through the necessary steps for filing your modification of support request with the court.
Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne is here to help you navigate the Nebraska child support process and to advocate for your rights.