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Does serious illness affect child support obligations?

In many books, films, and television shows, the parent who falls behind on his or her child support obligations often gets used as shorthand to tell the audience quickly that this character is doing a lousy job as a parent and does not deserve sympathy or understanding. Considering just how many parents throughout the country face just this circumstance for completely legitimate reasons, it is a wonder that the writing convention of the so-called “bad” or “irresponsible” parent is still a powerful symbol, especially given the challenging reality of being a parent with child support obligations, especially when times get difficult.

Many loving parents find themselves feeling trapped between their obligations to their children and crushing circumstances that make it implausible to continue making the payments. This is especially true for parents who suffer a serious illness or some other major injury that produces large medical expenses.

When serious illness or injury strikes, the love and commitment of the parent is often not enough to overcome financial numbers that simply don’t work. Fortunately, the law provides means to address this, for parents who wish to stay within the law and avoid delinquency.

If you face child support obligations that you cannot meet because of a medical emergency or illness, you should consider requesting that the court modify your child support order. When the court initially issued your child support order, it was based on the factors of your income and the child’s need at the time. Since your income is not severely impacted by unavoidable expenses, the court may allow you to suspend or reduce payments for a temporary period of time to allow you to address your medical expenses and remain in good standing.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to begin this process. It is never wise to simply stop making payments, even if you have good reason. Make sure to take swift legal action to keep your parental rights and privileges secure while you weather the storm of a challenging health situation.

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