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What happens when a parent who pays support becomes disabled?

Everyone, no matter how young and healthy they are, is just one accident or illness away from becoming too disabled to work for at least some period of time. If your co-parent on whom you rely for child support becomes disabled, what happens to you and your children?

If your co-parent no longer has their regular paycheck coming in because they've suffered a disabling injury or illness, they need to notify the court if it's going to impact their child support payments. Don't just work out an agreement with your co-parent on your own. If that support is court-ordered, they need to go through the proper channels. You should immediately notify your attorney as well.

You'll want to find out if your co-parent is receiving disability insurance benefits. (Any parent who's responsible for providing for their children should have a long-term disability policy, either through their employer or their own insurer.)

If your co-parent is receiving workers' compensation because the injury or illness is work-related, that will bring in some income while they're unable to work. They may also qualify for Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income.

Their benefits likely won't total what their regular paycheck did. Therefore, you should expect a reduction in the child support you receive. If the disability is expected to be temporary, you're co-parent will likely only be granted a temporary support modification.

If the disability becomes permanent, the child support amount will likely need to be adjusted to reflect your co-parent's disability income, other potential sources of income (like perhaps a settlement or award from a lawsuit) and their assets.

If your co-parent doesn't make the payments required by the modification, their disability benefits can be garnished. It's essential to report nonpayment of child support to your attorney. They can help you take the appropriate steps to help ensure that your children receive the support their parent has been ordered to provide.

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