Can I suspend my alimony and child support payments if I have no income?

mens divorce lawyer William BackerQuestion:

I recently lost my job and now only receive unemployment benefits. I have filed for a child support and maintenance modification since I have no money but the court date is set for 6 months from now!

Can I suspend my alimony and child support payments in the meantime until I find a job with more income?



Unless the language in your divorce decree specifically allows you to suspend your support payments (which it most likely does not), the only option you have is to seek a modification with the court.

It appears from your question that you have already filed a motion to modify your alimony and child support obligations with the court, and that the court has set a hearing date which is several months away. You should consult with an attorney about filing a motion to obtain a temporary order on those issues while the case is pending.

Your attorney may be able to obtain a hearing date on the motion for temporary orders much sooner than a trial date. The court could enter a temporary order that would be in effect until the full hearing on the motion to modify. Your concerns could be brought to the judge’s attention at the hearing on the motion for temporary orders.

You should consult with an attorney before you decide to stop making your support payments.  If you stop making the support payments, the opposing party could ask the court to find you in contempt of court.  In a contempt hearing, you would be required to appear in court and explain why you failed to comply with the judge’s order.  In addition, failure to make child support payments could be considered a criminal offense.

Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers in 18 states.


William F. Backer is an Associate Attorney in the Arnold, Missouri office of Cordell & Cordell where he practices domestic relations exclusively. Mr. Backer is licensed in the State of Missouri. Mr. Backer received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, with emphasis in Accounting, from the University of Missouri – St. Louis. He then went on to receive his Juris Doctor from Saint Louis University School of Law in 1999.

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One comment on “Can I suspend my alimony and child support payments if I have no income?

    Civil Rights Director
    Why is it that this guy has to wait 6 months for a hearing? If the mother wanted to enforce her support award, she be in court in less than 6 weeks. Is the 6 months a “bright-line” rule that the state has set up in determining child support/alimony modifications when one loses their job, and the unemployment has expired?

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