Child Support Modification During COVID-19
COVID-19 has caused financial hardships for many people. Although state and federal governments have stepped in with emergency financial programs to ease some of these burdens during this time, that hasn’t helped those who are still responsible for making child support payments and other financial obligations under their divorce agreements. Child support still stands, regardless of our current health crisis.
There are no government relief programs available for things like child support during our current pandemic. Children’s expenses continue, and it’s important to understand that your child support obligations are still legally enforced during COVID. Whether your support was court-ordered or by agreement, you are still responsible for payment. It’s best to make some form of payment in good faith during this time, even if you can’t make the full payment.If You Can’t Afford to Make Your Child Support Payments
If you have suffered financially and find that you can’t afford to make these payments, you want to discuss this with your co-parent. This may require that you work this out in a more formal manner, using mediation, arbitration, or with your Bellevue divorce lawyer. Especially if you anticipate that your job loss is temporary, your co-parent may be willing to work with you and agree to defer support payments until you can make them.Child Support Modification
Another remedy you have is to legally modify your support until you can get better established financially. In this case, you should contact a Bellevue child support attorney to assist you.
To request a child support modification, you will need to present a request to the court explaining why you are asking for the change. In most cases, the court will consider reasonable and equitable requests. They will look at your particular case and your finances and rule on how future support will be handled.
Child support modification is a useful tool for individuals who are struggling financially during COVID, especially if you have lost your job or have taken a cut in salary. If you have taken on more custody responsibility of your child, you may also ask that your support payments be reduced. Conversely, a parent who is on the receiving end of child support can ask for a modification to increase that support due to the same financial constraints, particularly if there are new childcare expenses.What if You are Not Able to See Your Children During COVID?
Due to COVID, many arrangements have had to change temporarily to reduce exchanges and comply with sheltering orders. However, child support and visitation arrangements are two very separate things, and one is not conditional on the other. Consequently, you will still be responsible for child support even if you cannot have access to your children during COVID. .What if Part of Your Child Support Pays for Daycare or Tuition That is Not Being Used?
Although this may be the case, you cannot take it upon yourself to deduct this from your child support payment. You will want to first try to work this out with your co-parent amicably. You may also be entitled to reimbursement for that amount during the applicable time frame. But this will require your Bellevue divorce lawyer file an action with the court to ask for repayment. You should continue to pay the full amount of your child support until the court rules on a reimbursement.What Happens if Your Co-Parent Stops Making Child Support Payments?
If your co-parent stops making child support payments without getting your agreement or filing for a modification, you have legal options as well. You should speak to your Bellevue child support lawyer to discuss your legal options.
If your payments are being made through Family Support Services, you will also want to contact them for help. They may have the ability to garnish wages if your co-parent is working.The Children’s Best Interests
As in all matters of divorce, your primary consideration should be to the children’s best interests. The courts will consider this when asked to take measures on custody and support. As experienced Bellevue child support attorneys, we know that a co-parent who reacts unreasonably during a crisis will be viewed as one who will be less likely to consider the children’s best interests in other future matters as well. This is why parents should try to find some mutual agreement during COVID, even if you feel you are justified in your reaction.Get Professional Advice
At Northwest Law Group, our team of Bellevue divorce attorneys can help you during these difficult times. Contact us for an initial consultation to discuss your needs.