During rough economic years, many people with support obligations find themselves temporarily unemployed. If you have been ordered to pay child support or spousal support, then absent a stipulated agreement California family law courts will only reduce your support obligation due to a reduction in income if you take immediate action.
If you become unemployed or receive notice that you will be terminated, and want or need to lower your support obligation, you must file an application with the court to modify or terminate support. Self-help is not a legal method to reduce your support obligation, (i.e. you may not unilaterally stop paying support). You also cannot use your unemployment as an excuse to avoid your support obligation.Upon the filing of the appropriate application, California courts have the discretion to make the new support order retroactive to the latter of: (1) the filing date of your application to modify or terminate support; or (2) your employment termination date. If you anticipate that your unemployment will be temporary, you can still obtain a temporary reduction in support; you may even request that the order restore the old support order once your income returns to its previous level (to avoid having to return to court). Consult with a family law attorney to determine whether you should request that the Court take action.