Don't assume you don't have to pay child and/or spousal support just because you were laid off!
Most of here in California are victims of these tough economic times in one way or another. Layoffs and unemployment claims seem to be increasing week after week. If you have been laid off, or if your unemployment benefits have expired, you now face the reality of having to make support payments that were based on your prior level of income, and you may not be able to afford these payments.
What you need to understand is that even if you were laid off, you must continue paying support at the ordered level. You need to immediately request at least a temporary modification from the Court. If you delay, you may very well find yourself falling behind in payments and facing a contempt or collection action by your ex-spouse/other parent. Once the payment due date has occurred, the Court cannot modify the amount payable unless you filed a motion for modification prior to that date. Here's an example:
Mike lives in Monterey, CA and was divorced in Contra Costa County, CA four years ago. He has two daughters and was ordered to pay $750/month in child support, based on his income at the time of $70,000/year. Regrettably, Mike was laid off three months ago and has not made any support payments during that time because he lives only on unemployment benefits. His ex-wife has now brought a Contempt of Court motion against Mike for failure to pay his support, and Mike filed a motion to modify child support in response.
Because Mike waited to seek modification until after he was three months past due, he owes his ex-wife $2,250 ($750 x 3 months). In addition, he may have to pay some of his ex's attorney fees for the cost of bringing the motion. Had Mike filed for a modification of support immediately once he was laid off, the Court would have had the authority to retroactively modify the support payments that were due.
Important Lesson: don't wait until you get behind on your support payments and find them mounting out of control. Take action immediately.
For more information about child support, spousal support and other California family law issues, please contact attorney Gary D. Sparks.