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The Men's Room: Paying Child Support

The Men's Room: Paying Child Support

Lose your Job? Don't Let Child Support Pile Up; File for Reduction with Court


    It's hard for men to admit that they need to reduce their child support when they've been laid off. It's like a double whammy of "I'm not a good employee" and "I'm not a good provider." But the reality is that sticking your head in the sand in hard times, like now, is not the answer. This economic meltdown that everyone seems to be effected by, is hitting home hard. Unemployment rates are up, employers are cutting hours to the bone, and there are 'For Lease' signs in many of the commercial spots where there used to be a business. People could be out of work for a very longtime, and avoiding the topic will only make it worse.    

Fathers frequently end up with huge back child support obligations because they were laid off. They don't go in to the court and seek a modification based on their now non-existent income, they're prideful and they are fearful. That "hope to have  new job soon" optimism is necessary to get through the day, but don't let it be an excuse to avoid protecting yourself with a child support reduction.

Men are strong willed creatures, sometimes too strong for their own good. Men can be so sure that things will turn around that they will ignore the realities of what is happening. They let their fears rule their actions and use hope to offset the fear, rather than action. This is a huge mistake.

It's better to be a dad who's paying less child support and who is current, than to be a deadbeat dad who is not paying an obligation he can't afford, just to soothe his ego. 

Once you've had a major employment change in your life, you need to address it immediately, particularly with something as gnarly as child support. If you're paying child support, and have a drop in income, you need to take action quickly because unpaid child support obligations can ruin our life and they add up fast. It also is a blow to your ego when you know that you owe what  you can't pay, and that makes it harder to put on the "game face" you need to get a new job.   

If all you do is file the papers to get a reduction, at least you have taken an action that will allow the court to make a retroactive reduction in your support, even if you have a court date that is months away. As the moving party, you can always withdraw your request for lower payments, if you land that dream job, but protect  yourself in the interim.

The point of all this, is that even though the times are scary, we need to react rationally to the real facts of the situation. If you've suffered a job loss and need to reduce your child support payments, don't wait. Hoping for better days is good for your outlook, but bad for your checkbook. Doing nothing is not the right answer.

David Pisarra is an attorney, columnist and entrepreneur, who operates Pisarra & Grist in Santa Monica, Calif. Click here for his Web site.

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