A lot of people have faced unemployment (both short-term and long-term) over the past couple of years. If you’ve recently lost your job, you’re certainly not alone. If you’re a divorced parent, however, you may have concerns about how your unemployment will affect your ability to pay child support and whether it will impact your relationship with your children – and your co-parent.
Don’t try to hide your unemployment. It’s typically best to be honest with your ex. They’re probably going to find out anyway. Be honest with your kids as well – on an age-appropriate level. The important thing is to reassure them that everything will be fine.
Modify your child support order
If you’re paying child support, you’ll likely need to modify your child support order temporarily. It’s crucial to do this through the court. Even if your ex agrees to lower payments, you still have a court order in place. Not abiding by that could land you in serious legal trouble. Remember that unemployment benefits, severance pay and any other money you earn while you’re out of work count as income in calculating child support obligations.
You may want to modify your parenting plan
If there’s an upside to your situation, it may be that you can spend more time with your kids. This can save you and your co-parent daycare expenses. It may also allow your co-parent to pick up some extra hours or overtime if they have a job where they can do that.
By being able to spend more time with your children, you can give your co-parent a needed break, and take on some extra child-related chores. This may help assuage some of the frustration they may be feeling because of your situation.
Some people – particularly men – worry that losing their job will cost them custody of their children. Unless you did something violent or illegal, a job loss shouldn’t affect your parenting rights. People lose their jobs for all sorts of reasons. Even if you lost yours because of poor performance, that has nothing to do with your ability to be a good parent.
If you’re concerned about how your co-parent will respond to your job loss, it may be wise to seek legal guidance before you tell them. Getting legal advice is wise anyway if your work situation is going to affect your support and custody agreements – even temporarily.