Across California and the rest of the United States, people are reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This global health crisis has completely rearranged the way we go about living our lives. Unfortunately, this is also affected many people’s ability to find work. Hundreds of thousands of California residents have lost their jobs or been furloughed. Others are seeing their hours significantly reduced to the point where they are barely making ends meet. This can be detrimental for somebody who has to pay child support. At the Law Offices of Stephanie L. Mahdavi, our Westlake Village child support attorneys want to discuss what options you may have concerning your child support payments during this ongoing pandemic.
After a child support order has been issued, the paying parent needs to continue to make the court-order payments, or they risk running into serious legal trouble. However, either parent may request that the court modify the amount of the support up or down. A legitimate inability to pay child support at the current court-ordered level could justify a downward modification. The COVID-19 pandemic has put many people into a position in which they may have to request a downward modification.
First, you need to begin this process as soon as possible because any downward modification is not retroactive. If you miss any payments, you will accrue arrearages and could be found liable for contempt. This is punishable by fines or even jail time in some situations.
If you are no longer employed or have seen your income slashed significantly due to the coronavirus, you need to assess whether there are any reasonable opportunities in the immediate future to find new employment based on your circumstances. In general, the courts in California will not modify child support unless there has been a material change in circumstances since the previous order was issued.
If you are seeking a downward modification of your child support payments, you need to document and identify how your expenses and income have changed due to the pandemic. The facts related to the case will need to be submitted to the court when you request a modification. Whether a person is seeking a child support change to increase or decrease their payments, the income of each parent is considered.
It is important to note that the court order includes any unemployment insurance benefits the parents are receiving. As of this writing, there is significant uncertainty as to whether or not the federal government will re-implement and extend supplemental assistance to unemployment benefits.
If you have concerns about your ongoing child support payments, you may need to speak with an attorney about your case as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of Stephanie L. Mahdavi, our Westlake Village child support attorneys have a thorough understanding of modification requests in California. You can contact us for a consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 805-379-4550. We want to ensure that you remain on the right side of the law and that your child/children continue to get support when they need it.