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Child Support Obligations During COVID-19 in New Jersey

Unhappy young mother embracing upset little curly daughter with virus mask, sitting on windowsill at home, consoling sad preschool girl. Concept of coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic disease symptoms

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy.  State and local governments have required many businesses to temporarily close to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.  Many other businesses have suffered from limited demand due to the financial problems experienced by consumers across the country.  As a result, many businesses have been forced to furlough or fire much of their workforce.  If you lost your job or suffered a blow to your income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, you might be able to modify your child support obligation or modify the child support obligation of your co-parent.  Read on for a discussion of child support amidst the coronavirus pandemic and reach out to a seasoned Englewood child support lawyer for help with a New Jersey family law matter.

Without a court order, child support obligations remain the same

If child support is included in a final divorce order, then it is a legal obligation.  We have discussed the options for a party seeking to enforce a child support obligation against a co-parent who refuses to pay.  Even if the payor experiences sudden financial hardship, they still have the obligation to continue paying until they obtain permission from the court or the child support recipient to reduce or stop their payments.

If one or both parents are experiencing hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic, the parties can agree to modify child support temporarily.  The recipient may agree to reduced payments or delayed payments while the coronavirus pandemic continues, or the payor may agree to additional child support if they can afford it, while the economy is still experiencing difficulties.  Any change to the child support obligation should be done formally in writing and filed with the Court to protect both parties.  If the parties cannot agree to a modification, court intervention will be necessary.

If you lost your job, you could seek a modification of child support

A party who experiences a significant “changed circumstance” can petition the court for a modification of their child support obligation.  A changed circumstance must be permanent, substantial, and unanticipated.  The financial impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic likely qualifies as a major, unexpected event whose financial impact is likely to be long-term.  A party who lost their job, for example, has a strong argument for reducing their child support obligation.  There may be some difficulty in arguing that the changed circumstance will be permanent, rather than temporary, as required for a modification; your attorney can help you build the best case for modification.

A party receiving child support might also petition for a modification if their income has been impacted by the pandemic.  They will need to demonstrate that they need additional child support due to increased financial hurdles and that the child support obligor can afford to pay more.  There have been no definitive cases on how courts should evaluate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on family support obligations, but courts are likely to understand the reality of COVID-19’s impact on the finances of each party.

Discuss your financial circumstances with your family law attorney to find out if you are eligible for a modification.  Courts are receiving an influx of alimony and child support modification requests, and court proceedings have been impacted by coronavirus shutdowns just like private businesses, so it is important to act as soon as possible if you are concerned that you are unable to meet your financial obligations given your new burdens.

Get Help from a Knowledgeable and Compassionate New Jersey Child Support from Attorney

If you’re dealing with child support, child custody, or other family law issues in New Jersey, contact the Englewood family law attorneys Herbert & Weiss at (201) 500-2151 for help.

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