• Ronald A. Flate

Modifying your support agreement during a pandemic

Dear Clients and Friends,

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on millions of Americans’ financial situations. Layoffs, reduced hours, furloughs and business closings have changed people’s economic outlook. It’s also made it hard for people paying child support to meet their obligations and equally hard for child support recipients to cover their expenses. If this sounds like your situation, you should talk to a family law attorney because you may have options.

Your first option is to talk openly and honestly with the other parent and try to negotiate a modification arrangement while the pandemic is going on. Be reasonable — it’s likely that the other parent has experienced changed circumstances that impact their needs as well. If you can agree ahead of time, we can prepare and submit the agreement to the court for its approval. This is an important step as failure to have a court approved modification leaves the original court ordered support payments in place and subject to collection and contempt proceedings at any future time.

If you can’t work something out with the other parent, you may have to go to court to seek a modification. In that case, you generally will need to show that you lack the ability and opportunity to earn. When you’re facing this situation, it’s important that you’re actively trying to find another job, regardless of how challenging that might be at this point. This is because a judge will want to see that you’re making a good faith effort to find employment. Be sure to document your efforts so you can demonstrate this to the court.

Finally, if you think you need to file for a modification, it’s important that you do so quickly. Courts around the country have been reopening at different rates and it’s likely that they will be overloaded with cases that have been backing up for months. It may be a while before your case is resolved, but by filing early for the modification we will be able to get it to apply retroactively to your date of filing irrespective of the date on which it is in fact heard.

Call us at no charge to see if we can be of help.

Best,

Ron

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