I Just Lost My Job. What Should I File with the Court to Avoid Child Support Enforcement?By DADvocacy™ | October 13, 2014
You can file anything you want with the court; however, even if you did file something notifying the court and State of Florida Department of Revenue (the agency that runs the child support office) that you are now unemployed, it is not going to stop them from taking enforcement action. At this point, you just need to build up your evidence and be prepared to fight any enforcement actions taken against you. Follow the instructions below, which might help you avoid a contempt ruling. You should also keep your eyes out for any notices from the Department of Revenue, such as Notices of Intent to Suspend Driver’s License or of Intent to Levy. If you receive any such notices, you have 20 days to file a Motion to Contest the Notice, which will stop the enforcement action until there is a hearing on your Motion to Contest. At the hearing, you would present the evidence that you are unemployed and actively looking for work. If you move from your current address, you need to notify the Court and State, in writing, immediately of your new address. If you do not, you risk not receiving notices of enforcement action being taken against you and missing your opportunity to contest such action. Also, if you are eligible, you should apply for reemployment assistance (formerly known as unemployment compensation). If you receive reemployment assistance, your benefits will be garnished 40% to pay towards your child support. The fact that you qualify for reemployment assistance will also be useful in defending against any enforcement action taken against you, as it shows that you are not voluntarily unemployed.
As you begin looking for another job, document all the efforts you have taken to find a new job, and the log sheet linked here may be helpful to you (insert link). Note that our log sheet cannot be used as admissible evidence in Court, it strictly provided to help you organize the records you will need to bring to Court to prove your efforts.
If you get a job making less money (and you were unable to find a job making the same amount of money as you previously made), then you need to file a petition for downward modification to reduce your child support obligation. You should ONLY do this if you have calculated the math to ensure that you will prevail. Some child support obligors are still paying a support order entered long ago, it might be that those old numbers are quite low, and even with a reduction in pay, your obligation cannot be reduced.