If a California parent relies on child support to help pay for a child’s shelter, education and medical costs, it can be a cause for concern if the noncustodial parent who is required to pay child support suddenly becomes disabled. However, parents should be aware that, generally, a disability should not prevent a parent from paying some, if not all, of the child support that they were court-ordered to pay.

The obligation to pay child support does not go away if a parent becomes disabled. If disabled parents suddenly cannot afford the child support payments, they must go to court and request that the child support order be modified to reflect their new financial status. If they are receiving disability insurance benefits, it is likely that some of those benefits will go towards paying the child support that is owed. In fact, if the parent is in arrears, the court can potentially even garnish the benefits to pay some of the back child support.

If the court does modify the child support order, the nature of the parent’s disability will be taken into account. For example, if the disability is only temporary, the child support modification may also be temporary. If the disability is permanent, the court order may reflect the disabled parent’s earning ability now or in the future.

The child support payments a noncustodial parent may be required to make depends on a number of factors, including the parent’s income. If the parent’s income changes due to suddenly becoming disabled, a family law attorney may assist with filing a modification request. The attorney may also help such parents with gathering all of their financial documents they need to show that their financial situation has changed due to their disability.