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What Happens If I Can’t Pay My Child Support Because Of COVID-19?

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People who have suffered financial losses due to the coronavirus pandemic should check whether they qualify for financial assistance. If you get benefits and/or can defer your mortgage payments or rent, you might be in a position to pay child support.

Individuals who qualify for benefits can inform the unemployment office about their child support order. The unemployment office may deduct the child support amount from the unemployment wages. And if a person is able to work safely and/or from home, they can search online for new employment.

But if you just cannot afford child support payments, do not simply stop making payments. By doing so, you will begin to accrue arrears and face charges of contempt of court, incarceration, and other enforcement measures.

Until a judge modifies your child support order, you must pay. Child support order modifications can be done in two ways. You can either ask your ex and/or a court to make changes to the amount of support payments or speak to a local child support agency for assistance.

Speak to Your Child’s Other Parent for Child Support Modification

It’s a prudent idea to start by asking the other parent to consent to modifications to the child support amount. A logical starting point is to open all channels of communication with your ex-partner or ex-spouse. Being straightforward and honest is the best policy to understand the perspective of both sides.

However, it might be time to consult an experienced family law attorney if you and your ex-partner or ex-spouse cannot arrive at a resolution. Your lawyer can recommend interim financial alternatives that can be presented before your ex in hopes of reaching a mutually agreeable decision on the changes in support.

At times, a slight nudge from an attorney is all it takes for both sides to work towards accomplishing a resolution in unprecedented circumstances. If both parties come to an agreement, then it will be recorded in a legal document and rendered binding.

Modifications to a Child Support Order

If despite your best efforts, you and your ex-partner or ex-spouse are unable to come to an agreement even with legal counsel, court intervention might become necessary. Regardless of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most courts are attempting to function in as “normal” a manner as possible, trying to ensure that the public still has access to the legal system as needed. Family courts can receive filings made electronically, and it is possible to schedule court appearances through video conferences and telephone.

Income loss due to the coronavirus pandemic can be seen as an involuntary, substantial, and unprecedented event that would justify the court in assessing the situation to establish whether the provision of appropriate relief is required. The COVID-19 situation is unforeseen in terms of its extensive financial effect on families around the nation. Therefore, there isn’t much precedential guidance that allows us to comprehend how courts might respond to petitions on child support and alimony matters.

However, some potential outcomes that might occur due to such litigation are as follows:

  • The court could allow a temporary reduction in your child support amount, with a mandatory re-assessment after one to two months, when the support payments could be re-instated to their original amounts.
  • The court could let the child support amount remain the same but could provide relief on enforcement and collection. Any payment deficiencies would accrue as “arrears,” and it would be necessary for the obligor to pay back those arrears later on. In effect, this would allow the obligor to pay a lesser amount towards their child support obligations during the financial upheaval while ensuring that the recipient of support receives the amount in the future.
  • The court could evaluate alternative financial resources for the parties involved, assessing the access of each party to alternate cash sources, including understanding lines of credit, trust distributions, loans against retirement assets, relief to one or both parties under the Federal CARES Act, or advances on inheritances.

The circumstances of every family are unique, and hopefully, the courts will assess every option to get families through these challenging times.

In these uncertain times, folks throughout our community are facing scary situations. It is entirely understandable to be anxious about your family’s financial stability while simultaneously managing their emotional and physical health, as well as your own.

You should be ready to show evidence that you have been seeking employment. Make sure you print emails to potential employers as well as copies of job applications that you have sent. You will also need to submit details regarding your income, assets, expenses, and debts to allow the court to recalculate the child support amount.

Speak to a Skilled Family Law Attorney Today

The compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys at the law offices of John H Ruby & Associates understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has had widespread financial implications on many families, and we can help. Our experienced child support modification lawyers will help you and your family navigate this difficult time with a focus on reasonable and positive outcomes—call (502) 895-2626 today for a detailed no-obligation case review.