COVID-19 and its Effect on Child and Spousal Support

        
    
    
    

To say we are living in stressful financial times would be an understatement. COVID-19 has inflicted financial havoc on many. Separated parents and spouses that are responsible to pay financial support to their exes are finding themselves in difficult circumstances, which also leaves the party receiving support in a financial bind.

Support Orders Remain in Effect

Support orders are not immune from the worldwide pandemic and are being challenged as people lose their livelihoods. The workforce has taken a hit as has never been witnessed before. Individuals are having difficulty making support payments due to furloughs, reduction in hours, or business closings. The economic uncertainty has, understandably, made support payments difficult or impossible to meet.

The potential for not receiving the financial support that one has counted on can be devastating, as mothers and fathers attempt to determine how to pay for the children’s necessities.

Support obligations are modifiable where there has been a significant change in income, such as when a party has lost a job due to no fault of his or her own, where there has been an involuntary reduction in work hours, or where there has been an increase or decrease in childcare expenses. For example, in circumstances where one’s job is considered essential, that individual must report to work. However, since the child is no longer at school, child care is necessary during the workday. This increased child care expense represents a significant change in circumstances, which would entitle the recipient to be eligible for an increase in support.

Ways to Modify Support Orders

How may these situations be resolved? The easiest way, of course, is to attempt to reach an agreement. Coming to an agreement for a reduced amount may provide the recipient with peace of mind that support, even if reduced, will still be received, and ease the financial anxiety felt by both parties. Moreover, if an amicable relationship exists between the parties, other types of support may be offered, such as childcare or household services. Of course, working out support matters on your own sounds easy, but in reality, when two opposing parties are negotiating dollars and cents, the assistance of an experienced attorney may be necessary. 

If you’re unable to reach an agreement regarding support and you feel a change is necessary, your first call should be to an attorney, who will explain the ins and outs of support modifications. It is important to act quickly in order to preserve your “Effective Date”, the date on which the petition is filed. Even though the courts are closed right now, this date will be important for the court in calculating any retroactive payments or retroactive obligations.

Scott Bonebrake practices law in Media, PA, and has been a licensed attorney for 25 years. Please feel free to contact Scott if you have any legal questions including those related to child or spousal support. You can reach Scott at 610-892-7700, or at sbonebrake@noelandbonebrake.com.