What to Do If COVID-19 Has Impacted Your Ability to Pay Child Support
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the U.S. economy, unemployment claims are hovering near 1 million a week, millions of workers have had their hours cut and more than 100,000 business have closed. With their sources of income cut off, many divorced parents are struggling to meet their child support obligations. Unfortunately, there are no court-approved relief programs in place, so you’ll need to be proactive if you’re faced with this situation.
If COVID-19 has affected your ability to pay child support, the first step is to communicate. You shouldn’t just withhold payment; rather, you should talk to the child’s other parent about your situation. But remember that unpaid child support continues to accrue even if that parent understands and gives you a break for a while.
The only way to legally alter your support obligation is to seek a child support modification from a court. You’ll need to prove that you have suffered a substantial change in financial circumstances, such as if COVID cost you your job or forced you to close your business.
During the Great Recession of 2008-10, judges were often unforgiving toward people asking to modify support, sometimes telling them simply to go get a different job. But the COVID-19 unemployment crisis is far worse than the situation a decade ago. As family law attorneys, we have had success earning modifications for our clients. Having your finances affected by COVID-19 is not a guarantee that you can get a modification, but there is a reasonable chance that you could be successful.
It’s important to realize, though, that your income is not the only thing judges will consider when deciding whether to modify a child support order. The court will also look at your assets. You may not have income right now, but if you have substantial funds in a brokerage account, a modification becomes less likely. If you are in such a position, talk to your lawyer about whether you should sell some assets to help make your child support payments for the foreseeable future.
Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. has won modification of child support for numerous clients affected by the COVID-19 recession. Our Long Island attorneys are ready to assess your situation and take action on your behalf. Call our Melville office at 1.631.479.3839 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.