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How does unemployment affect your child support obligations?

When you divorced and your child support order was put in place, you had a good job. You were more than happy to provide financial help to your co-parent, who has primary custody of the kids, to ensure that their needs are met.

Now, suddenly, you've lost your job. What should you do about your child support obligations while you're looking for another job?

First, it's essential to understand that a losing your job doesn't automatically relieve you of your legal requirement to pay child support. You need to notify the court — as well as your co-parent — about your job loss. Of course, you should also contact the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development to see if you qualify for unemployment benefits. You need to let the state know about the child support order so that the child support can be deducted from your benefits.

However, you can't possibly make your regular child support payments and manage to get by on your unemployment check. You can ask the court for a modification in your child support order while you look for work. Be sure to document your job search efforts for the court to show that you're making an effort to look for another job.

If you were covering your children's health insurance, you may need to continue your coverage through the COBRA program. If that's too costly for you, find out if your co-parent can add the kids to their insurance policy or if you can obtain insurance through a government-funded plan.

Losing a job can be an extremely stressful event, particularly when you have a family to support. You may dread having your co-parent and your children learn about your unemployment. However, it happens to many people at some point in their lives. Don't compound the problem by just stopping your child support payments or working something out with your co-parent without informing the court.

You're still legally bound by that child support order unless and until it's modified. Your Tennessee family law attorney can help you through the process of modifying your support order.

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