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Child support and a parent's disability

California parents who rely on receiving regular child support payments may become concerned if the paying parent develops a physical disability and is unable to meet those obligations. While this may present a financial hardship for both parties, there are certain actions that can be taken.

It is important to find out if the parent responsible for paying child support has disability insurance. Disability insurance benefits, which may be provided by that parent's employer, can be used to make child support payments. However, the amount of disability insurance benefits is typically less than what the individual would normally earn in regular pay. As a result, the child support payment amounts that will be paid are likely to be less. This is because the parent's income is used as the basis for calculating child support, and disabled parents may be able to obtain a child support modification.

It is also necessary to know whether the disability is permanent or temporary. A temporary modification of child support will be ordered by the family court if the disability is temporary in nature. In cases in which the disability persists longer than anticipated, the disabled parent can return to court to ask that the modified child support payments be allowed to continue for longer period of time. If the disability is permanent in a medical sense, a permanent modification of child support is very likely to be ordered. The disability payments and any other income being received by the disabled parent will be used to calculate the modified child support payments.

A family law attorney may assist parents with resolving child support disputes. The attorney may request a modification to an existing child support order in cases in which financial circumstances have changed.

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