If you've recently become disabled, you may be wondering what that's going to mean for your court-ordered child support obligation. Some people mistakenly believe that disability will negate your go-forward obligation to pay child support. The truth is that you will still be obligated to make those payments even if you're declared disabled. Although you're still obligated to pay that support, here are a few things that you should know.
Are You Receiving Disability Insurance Payments?
If you are receiving payments from an employer-provided disability insurance policy or a Social Security Disability determination, you'll still be expected to make support payments from each of those disability payments you receive. Since disability payments are usually a fraction of your normal take-home pay, you may be unable to meet the full amount of the original order.
What Happens If You Can't Afford The Full Payment?
While disability doesn't completely eliminate child support, it may allow you to reduce your payment amount. When you are declared disabled, you can ask that the court review your support order and issue a modification based on your adjusted income. The lower income amount will be considered, and your support may be reduced to an amount you can more easily afford to pay.
What Will The Court Need To Know?
When you file a petition for modification, the court will want to know if your disability is permanent or temporary. This is important, because it will directly affect the type of support modification order that's issued. If you're declared temporarily disabled and expected to recover in a predetermined period, the court will issue a temporary support modification to reduce your payment obligation until you're able to return to work. If you're declared permanently disabled, you'll have the option of securing a permanent support modification that's reflective of your current disability payment.
Can Your Disability Payments Be Garnished?
Just like your traditional paycheck, tax returns, and other payments can be garnished for child support, your disability insurance payments can also be garnished for your support obligation. You may even find that you have an additional percentage withheld to account for your arrears that may be owed.
If you are applying for disability, you'll want to talk with an attorney about your child support obligation. He or she can help you evaluate the past due support, your ongoing obligation and the disability determination to help you decide how to proceed. He or she can even help with the modification request to reduce your obligation if necessary.
For more information, contact Craig H. Lane, PC or a similar legal professional.