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Lost your job? Don’t ignore your child support obligations

You’ve lost your primary source of income, your finances are in total disarray and you can’t afford your child support payment next month.

What can you do? You can’t pay what you don’t have, but that doesn’t mean you can simply ignore the situation and hope you can sort it out later once you’re back to work. Failure to pay child support can leave you labeled a “deadbeat” parent and subject you to everything from garnishments and jail time to property liens and the loss of your driver’s license.

In Hawaii, you can request a review of your child support obligation every three years or any time either parent has had a significant change in circumstances. With that in mind, here’s what you should do:

  1. Talk to your child’s other parent. Your obligation to provide support is both legal and moral. You don’t want your ex to find out the hard way that the check isn’t coming because that could ultimately hurt your child. Let them know your situation as soon as you can.
  2. Pay what you can until the order is modified. You’re much more likely to find the court sympathetic to your plight if you can show that you take your obligation seriously and are doing your best. A partial payment is better than nothing.
  3. Get help with your request. Even if your income is down to zero, the law sets a minimum support payment of $77 a month per child. That can be waived, however, if the court finds that exceptional circumstances apply. You may need an attorney to properly present your case if you want that to happen.

Losing your job is already a crisis. Don’t compound the situation through inaction.