Child Support

How Does Child Support Work with an Unemployed Spouse?

Child support arrangements enable children to thrive, even if their parents divorce or one parent isn't involved in their upbringing. Unfortunately, various circumstances can sometimes make it more difficult for children to receive the help they deserve from child support arrangements.

If you're involved in a child support arrangement where the child's other parent is unemployed, you may wonder how that impacts the amount of child support you owe or are responsible for paying. We're here to clear up how child support works in New York when your ex is unemployed.

Does an Unemployed Parent Still Pay Child Support in NY?

In most cases, yes, unemployed parents are still responsible for paying their child support obligation. The New York Child Support Enforcement Bureau (CSEB) runs a program called Unemployment Insurance Benefits (UIB) Intercept for unemployed parents with child support obligations.

As part of the UIB Intercept program, noncustodial parents automatically have "current and/or overdue child support payments automatically deducted from their UIB payments," according to the NY CSEB website.

However, receiving UIB may result in a lower child support obligation for the noncustodial parent. This is common in cases where a formerly high-income parent loses their job and has to apply for UIB. In cases where a parent's financial circumstances change substantially after a custody order is issued, that parent can request a custody order modification to adjust the terms of their custody arrangement.

However, if the court finds that a parent avoids seeking employment or remains intentionally unemployed to pay less child support, the court may penalize that parent accordingly, refusing to adjust their child support obligation or requesting them to pay a higher amount.

What Happens if a Parent Falls Behind on Payments?

The CSEB can take several measures to penalize parents who fall behind on their child support payments:

  • Credit bureau submission. The CSEB can issue a statement of child support noncompliance to credit reporting bureaus, hurting the non-compliant parent's credit score.
  • Wage garnishment. The CSEB may garnish a non-compliant parent's wages to pay for missed child support.
  • Liens. The CSEB can also file claims against a parent's real estate or personal injury claims.
  • Property execution. The CSEB has the right to seize financial assets, including bank accounts and property, to repay missed child support.
  • Passport denial. The CSEB may deny a non-compliant parent's passport to stop them from traveling after missing a support payment.
  • Tax referrals. Finally, the CSEB can file the delinquent payor's information with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, allowing tax collectors to factor in missed child support to their collections.

If you fall behind on child support payments or become unemployed, you should contact your county family law court and New York CSEB immediately to explain your situation. They may be able to help you file a modification case to adjust the amount of child support you owe.

If you're a custodial parent who's concerned about collecting child support from a noncustodial parent, our custody attorneys here at Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C., can help. Our lawyers work with New York parents to help them protect their rights and pursue their child's best interests.

To schedule a consultation or learn more about our team, contact us online or via phone at (516) 406-8381.