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Dealing with unemployment as a divorced parent

Dealing with unemployment as a divorced parent

Over the past couple of years, many people have found themselves unemployed. Some have lost their businesses. If you’re out of a job, you’re far from alone. However, as a divorced parent, you’re likely concerned about what this means for your child custody and support agreements. 

While an upside of your current situation is that you can spend more time with your kids, some people use an ex’s unemployment as an excuse to try to lessen their parenting time. That may be particularly true if job loss has forced you to move to a smaller place or stay with family or friends.

Revising your parenting schedule

If you and your co-parent have a relatively amicable relationship, you may be able to work out a temporary revised parenting schedule that will allow you to take the kids after school rather than have them go to an after-school child care program or take them on more weekdays and let your ex have them on the weekends. 

Just remember that this situation won’t be permanent unless you get a new job where you can work at home. However, if your stay-at-home status is temporary, you may want to consider getting a temporary modification to your parenting schedule.

Modifying your child support obligations

If you’re paying child support, you’ll most likely need to modify that temporarily as well. This definitely needs to be done through the court. Even if your ex agrees to get less (or no) support while you’re not working, you still have a court order in place. If you’re not paying what it states, you’re violating it. If your ex were to change their mind about taking less money, you could find yourself in serious legal jeopardy.

Honesty is key

It’s always best to be honest about your situation with your co-parent and (in an age-appropriate way) with your kids. If you and your co-parent can talk to them together, that’s preferable. If you can’t, the next best thing is for both of you to reassure them separately that everything will be fine. Your co-parent definitely shouldn’t use this as an excuse to criticize or belittle you to the kids.

If you’re going to be modifying custody and/or support agreements – even temporarily – it’s always best to do it with legal guidance rather than on your own.

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