Imagine the following scenario: years ago, a father and mother of a child got divorced and the father was ordered to pay child support to the other parent. But recently, that father lost a job and can no longer make the child support payments. Does the father have a right to claim child support after he lost the job if the mother is still employed?
The answer is: “It depends,” says our Salt Lake City child support attorney Emy A. Cordano. In short, as long as the father did not voluntarily quit his job and did not willfully and intentionally act in a way that led to his firing for voluntary impoverishment to avoid paying child support, he may qualify for a child support award from the mother if she is still employed.
However, this is where it gets complicated because it is simple only in theory. The question “How did the father lose his job?” is one thing, but the question “Has he found a new job or is capable of finding a new one and earning the same amount of money as before?” is equally important.
Loss of job does NOT necessarily mean you can modify child support
The mere fact that a joint custodial father, who was ordered to pay child support to the mother, loses his job does not automatically make him eligible to receive child support from the mother, who is still employed. A child support order will not be modified unless the father can prove that he cannot reasonably expect to get a new job to earn the same wage.
If the father, in the above-mentioned circumstances, can prove that he cannot find a new job making the same wage in the same field, it does not necessarily entitle him to obtain a child support award either. That is because, under Utah law, a parent who seeks to modify child support after losing his or her job must also prove that he or she cannot reasonably expect to get a new job in some other field to earn the same amount of money per hour or month.
Another factor that will be considered by a family court before approving the father’s request to modify child support is what wage if any, the father can be reasonably expected to earn if he obtains a new job in the same or some other field. If the father became partially or temporarily disabled, which made it impossible for him to continue being employed and/or earn the same wage, his chances of successfully modifying child support increase tenfold.
Scenarios in which an unemployed father can modify child support
To sum up, our Salt Lake City child support attorney explains that the unemployed father may be entitled to modify a child support order if he:
- Is not capable of earning any income whatsoever (due to a disability or serious injury);
- Is no longer earning the same amount of money as before to provide the other parent with child support payments (Social Security benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment compensation, income replacement disability insurance benefits, and other non-earned sources of income are treated as “income” by Utah family courts);
- Is imputed $0 or less of an income than the mother earns (imputed means earning an income that an individual does not currently earn but has the capacity and opportunity to do so).
Given the fact that family courts in Salt Lake City and all across Utah tend to be biased against fathers when it comes to child support awards, it is highly advised to be legally represented by a lawyer to ensure that you will be able to modify child support in your particular case. Speak to our lawyers and get a legal consultation by calling at 801-804-5152.