Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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How to collect child support when the paying parent is unemployed

In Massachusetts, as in other states, orders of financial support for children are created based on the incomes of both parents at the time the support is requested. There is always hope that the initial child support order will be sufficient, but life is always changing, and there are no guarantees that the paying parent will be able to continue making the support payment as written. For example, how does one collect support funds from a parent who loses his or her job?

Unemployment is a real problem in the United States. Many people have found themselves unable to find jobs or have been let go from their places of employment. It is unfortunate, but it happens. When a person who is ordered to pay child support becomes unemployed, it does not mean he or she is released from his or her responsibility to pay child support, but how can a custodial parent collect from someone who has no money coming in?

It is possible to take the issue to court. In doing so, a judge may order the paying parent to find employment so that he or she can provide some level of financial support, even if it is less than what was originally ordered. It is also possible to collect from any other sources of income that the paying spouse has coming in, such as unemployment compensation or lottery winnings -- among others.

Trying to collect child support from an unemployed parent may seem counter intuitive, but there is reason to do it. Letting an unemployed parent off the hook means that he or she will likely try to remain unemployed in order to avoid his or her support obligation. At the end of the day, children deserve their best shot, and that starts with having their basic needs met. Support-receiving parents in Massachusetts can ensure that this happens by pursuing support enforcement options with the assistance of legal counsel.

Source: cse, "Parent to Pay Lives in Massachusetts: 10. What if the parent paying support is still in school or has no job?", Accessed on Aug. 16, 2017

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