Money may be tight. If so, you may have several financial worries on your mind — not the least of which, of course, is the next child support payment you have due.
The state doesn’t automatically adjust the amount of support that you’re required to pay when your income changes or you’re laid off. In North Dakota, support orders are typically reviewed every 18 months to see if adjustments need to be made. However, you likely can’t wait around for the next review when you’re in a crunch.
You can’t just ignore the situation. Failing to pay support can have disastrous consequences — for you and your child. You could experience collection efforts, tax return offsets, assets seizure, the loss of your driver’s license and a contempt citation. Your child’s situation is worse: They may not have enough for their basic needs.
So how do you handle it?
1. Communicate quickly and often with your co-parent.
They need to know what’s going on so they can prepare themselves financially for the missing payment(s). The sooner you can warn them about what to expect, the better. Continue communicating with any updates so that they aren’t in the dark.
2. Assess your need for an adjustment.
If your situation is temporary, an adjustment to your support order is probably not in order. If your situation seems destined to continue for a while or could be permanent, it may be time to seek a modification.
3. Determine where you can (and can’t) make sacrifices.
To win an adjustment that reflects your reality, you need to show the judge that you’re really in a bad spot. Look at your expenses and see what you can cut out in favor of paying the support. A partial payment is better than nothing — and shows that you’re sincerely trying to meet your obligation.
Finally, talk to an experienced attorney. They can help you file the necessary forms to obtain a modified order of support.