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Job loss and child support

Some parents experience circumstances that make them unable to pay their child support obligation. For example, parents who are laid off or lose their job may not be able to meet their child support obligations.

Contact your child support office

By law, you must tell your child support office within 10 days if your income changes. Call your county child support worker if you:

  • Lose your job
  • Get a new job
  • Change jobs

You can get your county worker's phone number and address on Minnesota Child Support Online, the case information line or by calling your main county child support office. If you are unable to contact your worker, call the state child support office.

Your court order continues after a job loss

The child support you owe is court-ordered. Only a court order can change the amount you are obligated to pay. A monthly child support obligation does not automatically stop when your source of income ends. You must make a request to modify your child support order to change the amount you must pay. It takes a new court order to change the existing court order.

Withholding from unemployment benefits

Sometimes unemployment benefits take a while to start. When they start, or shortly thereafter, the Minnesota Department of Economic and Employment Development (DEED) will begin to withhold weekly payments for your child support. However, your next child support payment may be due before you get your first unemployment check. You are responsible for making your payments directly to the Minnesota Child Support Payment Center until unemployment or a new employer begins withholding and sending payments on your behalf.

Your unemployment benefits may be less than the amount your former employer paid you. DEED may not be able to withhold the full amount of support you owe each month due to the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Even if DEED withholds less than the amount you are court-ordered to pay, you are still responsible for the unpaid portion.

Consequences for not paying child support

If you pay only part of what you owe or you do not pay at all, the child support office may use enforcement remedies to collect the amount you owe, including:

  • Intercepting federal or state income and property tax refunds
  • Denying student grant payments for higher education
  • Charging interest on the past due support, also called arrears
  • Reporting the amount you owe to the national credit reporting agencies
  • Suspending your driver's, occupational or recreational licenses
  • Denying a passport application or renewal

Additional resources

If your circumstances have changed, information about these topics may help.

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