The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting new issues in all aspects of everyday life. Many are experiencing periods of temporary unemployment and an increase in household expenses due to quarantine orders – adding even more stress to an already uncertain and stressful time. Not only might bills become hard to pay, but child support orders could become impossible to pay. With the world at a standstill, what does that mean for parents trying to support their children?
There have been many steps taken to help individuals while we enter this uncharted territory. With families receiving stimulus checks and many companies across America offering forbearance on certain bills, families are receiving help in the short term. However, as the pandemic continues to take a toll on the economy, work may be hard to come by – leaving many parents in arrears.
Arrears are past due, unpaid child support owed by the noncustodial parent. Even with the short term help that has been offered, parents may still find themselves struggling to gather enough money for child support because this help may not be enough to cover payments for an extended time. With the help of open communication between parents and courts, there may be a way to temporarily modify or pause support.
Support filings are especially important during this crisis, as many are without income or receiving reduced income. Parties may file to modify their existing support obligation based on a change of circumstances. Before requesting a new order, you should be prepared to prove that you are looking for work, currently laid off, and anything else that will help prove your current financial situation. Although many courts are closed to in-person filings, we can still electronically file a Petition to Modify Support. By filing for a modification now you will secure the best outcome for yourself financially by preserving the retroactive effective date of your adjustment.This means that you will get credit for any overpayments you may have made since the date of filing for the modification.
You may also file an initial Complaint for Support requesting to receive child support or spousal support if there is currently no existing order in place. Although filing may not get parties immediate relief and will require a hearing to be scheduled, filing to modify or establish a support order as soon as possible is still very important. Any change to a support order will be retroactive to the date of filing. This means that you will be owed any payments due to you since the initial filing. In other words, the paying party will owe arrears from the date of filing until the date they start paying under the new order.
Speaking with an experienced attorney will be beneficial, as they can understand your situation and help you gather exactly what information will be needed. We know times are tough right now, and the added pressure of not be able to pay or not receiving your child support is never easy, especially when it is due to circumstances beyond your control.
The attorneys at Sadek and Cooper Law Offices have handled hundreds of support cases in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties of Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, and Chester. We are also licensed in the State of New Jersey. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation at 215-545-0008.