Child Support During COVID-19
By: Gordon & Perlut, LLC
COVID-19 (coronavirus) has disrupted everything in our daily lives. What if you owe child support but are not working? What if you receive and depend upon child support, during this crisis? The answer to the first question is: Has the income/employment of the parent paying child support changed? If the answer is no, then nothing should change and child support should continue to be paid.
What if you have lost your job, been furloughed, laid off, etc. and are required by Court Order to pay child support? You need to remember that your child support obligation does not automatically stop. You MUST take action to relieve yourself of the responsibility to pay child support. To do that you need to file a Petition with the Court to modify or abate your child support obligation until you return to work. Even though the courthouses are closed, they are operating, and an attorney can help you file the necessary documents. The Court cannot lower, suspend or abate your support before the date you file a Petition, so filing the petition is essential. If you do not, you can be held responsible for any child support you did not pay, even if you were not working. Eventually, the Petition will be presented, and even if (by that time) you have returned to work, the Court can modify your support between the date you filed your Petition and when you return to work.
If you are not working and are eligible to apply for unemployment, make sure you request a dependency allotment. This will increase the benefit you receive and often the Judge will order that the additional benefit be turned over to the party for child support while you are not working.
What if you are owed child support the payor stops paying? The first question is: Did his/her increase decrease or did he/she lose their job or get laid off? If the answer is yes, then you may want to wait a few weeks and see what happens. If you proceed to court now, the other parent will probably file a Petition to modify the child support and the Judge will almost certainly agree to suspend support for now. You could always wait and see what happens over the coming weeks as the payor may quickly get back to work. But, what about the child support for the weeks that went unpaid? Technically, the payor still owes it if they did not file a Petition to stop their obligation; it is up to you if you want to enforce that requirement or work with the payor to reach an alternative resolution.