My colleague, Colorado Social Security disability lawyer Tomasz Stasiuk recently published an article on his blog entitled “Do Social Security Auxiliary Benefits Reduce Child Support?” The post on Tomasz’ blog was actually written by attorney Yolanda Fennick, who practices family law in Colorado Springs.
Yolanda’s article sets out what Colorado courts are supposed to do – if a non-custodial parent qualifies for SSDI and his children begin receiving monthly auxiliary benefits, these auxiliary benefits will usually reduce the non-custodial parent’s child support obligations dollar for dollar.
I suspect that Colorado’s approach is similar to what you would find in other states, but when it comes to child support payments, do not assume anything. Further, until the obligations of the parties are put into writing by a judge and issued as an order, no other agreement or assumption matters.
The rules may be different in SSI cases, if the custodial parent is the one receiving SSDI, or if the child himself is receiving SSI. A good family lawyer can explain the law to you. As difficult as it may be to come up with the money to hire a lawyer, I think that both payers and recipients of child support would be very wise to have counsel when appearing in court.
All too often I get emails or blog comments from fathers who complain that their child support obligation exceeds their gross pay (this is especially true when there are multiple child support orders). Similarly, I hear from too many custodial parents (both moms and dads) who are trying to get by with no child support, while the non-custodial parent has moved on with a new family in a different state.
If you have learned nothing else from this blog, recognize that child support issues bring out very raw emotions, that judges can sometimes issue orders without seeing the full picture and that if you go into court without a lawyer, you will probably get a bad result.