The issue of child support is one of the many that make family law such a sensitive area of practice. Custodial parents may see child support as a necessary addition to their income while the paying parents may find it a difficult obligation to keep. If circumstances change and income drops, the only option a noncustodial parent may have is to file a petition to modify the child support order. Unfortunately, until a court approves the request, child support must continue even during a financial struggle.

Regardless of how you may feel about child support, it is a court ordered obligation and you must pay it. The only way child support can be reduced, increased or stopped is to have the original court order modified. There are no free passes on child support and simply experiencing a momentary change in income does not make it okay to ignore this obligation.

In the event you have become incapacitated, disabled or unemployed, you must still file a petition to modify your child support order. If there is a sudden drop in your income because of temporary unemployment, you should still look for full-time work. After all, a family court will determine child support based on earning potential and not necessarily actual income.

It is important for custodial and noncustodial parents to remember that child support is meant to bridge the gap between incomes, support their children and keep their children’s post-divorce lifestyle as close to what it was before the divorce. While some child support obligations may be more difficult to keep than others, remind yourself that it is designed to help your child. If you are experiencing financial hardship and struggling to meet your child support obligation, you may want to consider filing a petition to modify child support with the help of an experienced family law attorney.