Can I Adjust Child Support Payments if I Have Lost My Job Due to COVID-19?

 Posted on May 15, 2020 in Child Support

Modifying child support after losing your jobThe coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly everyone in the United States, and in addition to concerns about how an infection can impact your health and well-being, you may also be experiencing financial difficulties. Stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders have forced many businesses to close, and many people have lost their jobs or seen reductions in the income they earn. In fact, unemployment rates have risen to levels that have not been seen in the U.S. since the Great Depression. If you have lost your job or experienced a reduction in income, you will likely be concerned about how this will affect your child support obligations.

Requirements to Pay Court-Ordered Child Support

If you have been ordered to pay child support following your divorce or after separating from your child’s other parent, these orders will remain in effect, regardless of your employment status. This means that even if you lose your job, you will still be required to pay child support owed, and if you miss any payments, you will be required to make them up in the future, and you may also owe interest on late payments.

However, even though you will still have the obligation to provide financial support for your children, family courts will most likely recognize that changes in the income you earn have affected your ability to pay. You may be able to pursue a modification of your child support order based on your new circumstances. Any changes to child support may take other forms of income into account, including unemployment benefits you earn, government stimulus payments, or other assets you own that could be used to meet your children’s needs. If your ex-spouse has also experienced a job loss or employment issues, the child support modifications may also take these factors into account.

One additional wrinkle that can affect these types of cases is the fact that many courts have closed or are operating at limited capacity during the COVID-19 crisis. This means that even if you do pursue a modification to child support, your case may not be heard right away, and changes may not go into effect for several months. However, depending on the laws in your state and the procedures followed in your local family court, child support changes may be retroactive to when you filed a petition for modification. While you should do your best to remain current on child support payments, by pursuing a modification as soon as you experience financial difficulty, you may be able to receive some relief and avoid penalties for unpaid support.

Steps to Take Following a Job Loss

If you have lost your job or are experiencing financial issues that are making it difficult to pay child support, your first step should be to contact a family law attorney and discuss your legal options. Your lawyer can help you file a petition to modify child support and make sure you understand your legal requirements, your obligations to make up missed payments, and your options for financial relief. You will also want to inform your ex-spouse, either directly or through your attorney, of the issues you are experiencing, and you may be able to work with them to determine the best ways to meet your children’s needs. By acting quickly, you can avoid legal issues and penalties resulting from missed payments, and you can make the necessary adjustments to help your family maintain financial stability.


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