Does Losing Your Job During the Coronavirus Pandemic Affect Your Child Support Obligations?

Millions of people lost their jobs and work hours were reduced during the coronavirus pandemic. So, it comes as no surprise that parents are flooding New York family lawyers with calls for help decreasing their child support obligations.

But during a pandemic or not, losing your job does not automatically authorize you to change your child support obligations. if you fail to pay your child support without taking the appropriate steps, you can be found in contempt of court and penalized. Here’s what you need to know about changing your child support payments after losing your job.

Modifying a Child Support Order After Losing Your Job

In New York, you may only officially decrease your child support payments

by applying to the Family Court for a downward modification of the order. When a parent has lost their job, the court may grant such modification under either of the following circumstances:

  1. Substantial Change in Circumstances. If a parent’s income or the cost of raising a child has substantially changed, the court may adjust the child support, either upward or downward.
  2. Involuntary change in income. If either parent’s gross income has down by 15% or more since the court entered, modified, or adjusted the order, the parent can seek a downward modification of child support.

In either case, the parent seeking downward modification must follow some steps to prove they cannot afford payments. They must demonstrate that they are making a good-faith to seek new employment. They also must show that they cannot earn income at a similar level.

Unlike the early days of the pandemic where all courts were closed except for essential business, that is no longer the case. Courts in every region are now accepting child support modification filings, both virtually or in-person.

If you need to file a child support petition, visit the New York State Unified Court System. You can access relevant details on Family Court in your county from this site. Find information such as current operating hours, procedures, and how to contact the court.

What to do if you’ve lost your job during the pandemic?

You should file a petition to modify your child support order as soon as possible. In the meantime, you should continue with your child support payments to the extent possible. Talk to your co-parent about the problem–they may agree to temporarily reduce or suspend payments until you find a new job. Even if you can only pay a fraction of your court-ordered payments, your effort will make a good impression with the Family Court–and show your dedication to supporting your child.

If you need help filing a petition to modify your child support order or have any other questions about family law,  contact Miller Law Group today.