Being the parent with primary custody means that you have responsibility for all of your children’s basic needs. The child support you receive helps you keep a roof over the children’s heads. It helps pay for the groceries and cover the costs of your utilities so that everyone is safe and comfortable at your home.
Realistically, child support probably doesn’t cover the full cost of those basic needs, let alone the additional expenses that come with having kids like replacement backpacks after someone throws up in one or unexpected orthodontia.
The child support that you do receive will likely play a crucial role in your ability to balance your budget every month as the custodial parent. It can be difficult to be financially dependent on someone else. If your ex loses or quits their job, can they just stop paying child support to you?
A parent’s obligation to their children persists regardless of employment
Your legal obligations to provide for your children don’t magically disappear when you lose your job. The same is true for your ex. Although they may not be the ones with physical custody of the children, they still have legal obligations to the lives they helped create.
Texas does not end or temporarily halt child support when someone loses their job. If the state allowed unemployment to end child support obligations, undoubtedly there would be many people abusing such a loophole. Instead, the state cooperates with unemployed support-paying parents.
What are the options when a parent loses their job?
Texas cooperates with support-paying parents during difficult times. They can withhold child support directly from unemployment benefits. They can also hold a hearing to modify the child support amount. However, the lowest amount of income the courts will usually consider is minimum wage.
Even extended periods of time with no income will not exempt your ex from their obligation to pay, or to from a slowly accruing balance when they don’t make payments.
What can you do when your ex won’t pay?
If your former spouse is trying to make their job loss into an excuse for non-payment of child support, you might want to remind them how important the support is for your children. If they still don’t make an effort, you may need to ask the state to start support enforcement efforts, which can motivate your ex to start paying again.