One of the biggest post-divorce obligations a parent must fulfill is child support. After a marriage ends, these continued payments are meant to help the financial benefit of the union’s children. This is a court obligation that can’t be ignored without dire legal circumstances.
However, lately, many business owners and employees have found themselves without a source of income due to COVID-19 shelter in place mandates. Without sufficient income, it’s clear that financial obligations are difficult to achieve. So, where does this loss of income factor into your child support? Here are some of the answers we know as the developments in a world with COVID-19 evolve.
Are You Still Obligated to Pay Child Support?
If you lose your income due to COVID-19 closures you are still obligated to pay the child support you have previously been ordered until the court says otherwise. However, there are processes in place to help those who experience an unexpected financial loss.
If you have lost your income stream due to the virus, you can petition the court to reduce your child support obligation.
What if Your Circumstance Are Dire?
If you’ve lost income and cannot pay your due child support, you can still file a motion for a reduction. However, with several courts shut down due to the pandemic, we recommend that you file as soon as possible and ask for a retroactive reduction. This will allow the court to grant you the full credit you’re entitled to when your court date arrives.
Without this request and fast action, the courts will be unable to grant you a reduction for a date in the past.
This means that if you file for reduction 6 months from now then you are still probably going to be obligated to pay the child support during the next 6 months even though you may have been unemployed during the time period.
However, if you immediately file your petition for reduced child support, and ask for retroactive relief, the court can give you a credit going back to the day you actually filed that motion. In other words, if you file for a reduction today, but the court cannot hear your case for several months, the court can still go back in time and give you a credit for the proper reduction retroactively to the date you actually filed.
Filing a Motion Doesn’t Reduce Obligations
One should also be aware that filing a motion to reduce child support in itself does not lower your obligation. Until the court actually signs an order with a reduction you are still legally obligated to pay the full amount of previously ordered child support and could be held in contempt for failing to do so.
Lost income due to the Coronavirus shutdown could be a valid defense in a child support contempt hearing. However, without a pending motion to retroactively reduce the amount owed, you could still be on the hook for the full amount.
Get Your Child Support Answers From Marx, Altman & Johnson
The divorce lawyers at Marx, Altman & Johnson are still open for business and helping our clients with divorce strategies through socially distant practices we’ve enforced. If you are going through a divorce but have concerns about child support or any other important factor in the process, we’re here to help. Contact us today to schedule a safe consultation with one of our attorneys.