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What to know about child support during the shutdown

Federal employees who are parents and who aren't working because of the government shutdown are still required to make child support payments. However, authorities in Texas say that they are aware the shutdown could make it difficult to make those payments on time. Parents are encouraged to contact state authorities to discuss their options and to possible make alternate payment arrangements. Noncustodial parents are also encouraged to talk with the custodial parent about alternate payment options.

In some cases, the state may decline to pursue enforcement of unpaid child support until those who owe money go back to work. Those who cannot pay because of the shutdown will not be jailed for failure to make payments. However, a court will look to see if a noncustodial parent has any other resources available to make them in a timely manner. For instance, if an individual can borrow money or sell assets, the shutdown may not be a defense for not making child support payments as ordered.

Child support payments are designed to further the best interests of the child. Therefore, parents are required to make the payments unless they encounter an extreme hardship. In many cases, not being paid by an employer may count as such a hardship.

However, noncustodial parents may benefit from consulting with an attorney in such a scenario. It may also be worthwhile to work with a family court and the custodial parent to reach a solution. This may enable an individual to provide for a child and avoid possible penalties for failing to make child support payments. If a loss of income is expected to be long-term or permanent, an attorney may help a parent pursue a modification of the order.

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