One of the many adverse consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been its impact on the payment of child support. Either the parent paying or receiving child support payments might have lost their job because of the pandemic, a parent might lose time from work when they catch COVID-19 or because of the lack of childcare options when the schools suddenly close.
What happens to the child and parent who should receive child support when the other parent gets laid off and does not pay child support? Can your spousal support obligation or payment change because of a change in circumstances due to COVID-19? A North Carolina family law attorney can answer these questions and talk to you about how a coronavirus-related income loss could affect your alimony and child support.
What Should You Do if You Have Court-Ordered Child or Spousal Support Payments and You Get Laid Off?
The first thing you should do is contact your ex. Let them know that you have lost your job, and you do not know when you will get called back to work or land another job. Apply for unemployment benefits right away. Try to work out temporary arrangements with your former spouse to avoid a serious delinquency in your payments. If your former spouse does agree to a temporary change in the payment amount, get it in writing, signed and dated by both parties, and talk to a lawyer about getting a court order approving the change.
If your ex refuses to accept a lower amount, pay the amount that you can and keep written proof of all payments. If your child or spousal payments were automatically deducted from your paycheck, your employer will not be doing that while you are laid off. It is best not to pay in cash, but if you do so, get a written receipt from your ex acknowledging how much you paid on what date and specifying that the payment was for child or spousal support.
What Are Your Options if Your Ex Does Not Pay the Previous Amount of Child or Spousal Support During the Pandemic?
If a judge signs an order that lowers the amount of child or spousal support your ex has to pay due to a coronavirus-related loss of income, you will have to live with that amount until there is another court order modifying the amount. If your former spouse lowers the amount of or stops paying child or spousal support without a court order, you will want to talk to an attorney at once about your options.
Your lawyer could file a motion asking the court to enforce the existing child or spousal support order. In some situations, people reach an agreement to lower the amount of the support payments temporarily until certain contingencies get met, for example, until the paying spouse gets another job. The agreement should address how any arrearages will get handled after the pandemic-related financial situation gets resolved. Your attorney could then file a consent motion for a judge’s signature.
A North Carolina family law attorney can talk to you about your situation and offer guidance. Contact our office today for a consultation.