The Impact of COVID-19 on Child Support

April 15, 2020

COVID-19 has altered daily life for all of us. Schools and non-essential businesses are closed. Kids are at home. We are dealing with the pressures of obtaining food, medicine and even toilet paper. And most seriously, the risk of catching the virus is real. We are all facing challenges and adjusting to this new reality, not knowing when it will end. This adjustment is even more challenging for those now faced with a loss of employment or a significant reduction of income. If you are currently paying child support and your income has been affected by COVID-19, there are certain steps you should take immediately concerning your child support order.

As you likely know, your child support order was based upon the amount of earned income at the time the order was entered. Many factors were taken into account by the court or by your attorneys in determining the correct amount of support. This amount, however, can always be adjusted by court order or agreement of the parties if your income changes. Accordingly, if your income has been affected by COVID-19, there is an opportunity for you to consider if it is appropriate to file for modification of your support order.

Significantly, although many courts are closed or have limited access because of COVID-19, time is of the essence to file for a modification of support. Courts have already cancelled all prescheduled events, and new events are not being scheduled. Courts are only hearing cases where there is an emergency, such as custody involving endangerment of a child or filing for a Protection From Abuse Order. Although a modification of support will not be considered an emergency at this time and likely would not be heard, courts are still accepting filings for modification. This is important because, by filing for modification now, you are preserving the retroactive date for the modification to go into effect once the case is listed and modified with the court. Therefore, if your order is eventually modified, the overall amount of support can be reduced by filing now, instead of waiting.

You may feel unsure of what to do next after losing you job or income. A skilled family law attorney will be able to advise and guide you during this unsettling time. As the courts are frequently changing their procedures to comply with government advisories or orders, we are following these developments on a daily basis. If you are currently paying support, make sure you discuss your issues and whether you qualify for a reduction in support with a family law attorney. Doing so might help you feel less stressed in the short term, save you money in the long term, and will place you in a better position once the courts reopen and life starts to return to normal.

The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal or medical advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel or medical consultation, and should not be relied on as such.