Unemployment and Child Support

How does unemployment affect child support?

Unemployment and child support are related. It can result in lower child support payments. However, this will depend why you are unemployed. Were you laid off, or were you fired? Did you quit your job, or were you injured? Are you in treatment or in jail?

The Court will look at whether you are unable to find work, or if you are voluntarily underemployed.

Laid off and collecting unemployment

If you were laid off by your employer, then you are probably OK. Your unemployment benefits are considered your income. The benefit is usually  much lower than your old income, so child support may go down.

Quitting your job and child support

If you quit your job, then you will probably be considered voluntarily under employed. In that case the Court will take the position that you could be making your former salary or pay. Therefore, your child support will not be reduced.

You may have quit your job for a very legitimate reason. However, the Court considers your obligation to support your child very important. So, if you want to quit your current job, you should wait until you have another job with lined up.

Getting fired and child support

Getting fired from a job is not likely to lower your child support. The only way it would change is if there is a bust in your industry after your are fired. If you have been searching for a replacement job for quite a while, and there just aren’t any jobs out there, you might get a break.

Injury and unemployment

Sometimes people get hurt, and they cannot work for a while. If you are hurt at work, you will get worker’s compensation benefits. These benefits will be considered your income. If it is substantially lower than your previous pay, you might be able to lower your support obligation.

If you were hurt off the job, you may have no income. The Court then might lower your support obligation during your recovery time.

Imprisonment and child support

When you are in prison, you are unemployed. Your child support can be lowered, because you have no income. You will probably be ordered to pay the minimum support of $50 per month.


Unemployment can lower you child support obligation. However, you cannot be voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. In addition, unemployment benefits are considered income, and will be used as your net income for child support calculation.

Important Point – Child support will not change unless you file a petition to modify support with the Court. The new support amount can only be retroactive to the filing date. So, if you think your support should change, file the petition!

How can we help?

Here at WYeLawyers we can help you review your unemployment income to see if it is worth filing a petition to modify support. We can also file the petition, and represent you throughout the modification process. If you become unemployed, and need help with child support, schedule an appointment by calling 307-382-5545.

By Steve Harton

Additional Resources