How Child and Spousal Support Are Affected By COVID-19
In March and April 2020, an estimated 30 million Americans lost their jobs as a result of COVID-related closures, lockdowns and quarantines issued by local and state governments. If your ex-spouse is among the millions who lost their jobs, they may have decided to stop sending their spousal or child support payments. However, the law doesn’t give them a break because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Income
Studies suggest that millions of Americans were laid off or furloughed over the past few months due to the coronavirus outbreak. Many of those who have kept their jobs have faced reduced work hours, irregular schedules or even pay cuts. This situation has led to many issues for divorced couples, especially those raising young children.
A decrease in income may cause your ex-spouse to go to court and fight for a lower rate of spousal or child support. If they are earning less money, the court may ultimately grant lower payments. Keep in mind that they can’t decide to do this on their own. A court order that modifies child or spousal support is required for a lawful decrease in your payments.
Ability to Remit Payments
Even if your ex-spouse has continued working during the COVID-19 pandemic, they may have some trouble remitting their payments. Many exes transfer money in person at a social services agency office. Unfortunately, many of these offices have closed or limited their hours due to lockdown measures. The payer may need to petition the court if a judge required them to make their payments in this manner. If your ex-spouse has flexibility in how they make the payment, there are other options. Banks, credit unions, post offices, and money services at grocery and big box stores continue to offer money order services. Cashier’s checks may also be possible.
Some people have a court-mandated paycheck debit for their spousal or child support. If your ex-spouse lost their job, this directly impacts your payments. If you’ve stopped receiving the payments, reach out to your divorce lawyer to find out why. If your spouse qualifies for unemployment compensation, the debit can be done through the state office of unemployment compensation.
Ex-Spouse Gets COVID-19
With the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to increase in most areas of the United States as of July, it’s possible that your ex-spouse could end up getting infected with COVID-19. This could impact their ability to work. If you find out that your ex-spouse is ill, contact your attorney. You may need to request amended court orders for visitation and spousal or child support payments.
Ex-spouse Stops Paying
At worst, your ex-spouse may simply stop paying their support payments if they’re no longer receiving any income. Even during these extraordinary times, this is not within the law. Your ex-spouse is still required to pay you the amount due by the court-established deadline. If you stop receiving the payments you’re owed, contact your attorney for help.
Ask the Court to Intervene
If your ex-spouse decreases their child or spousal support payment or completely stops paying and blames it on the COVID-19 pandemic, seek legal counsel as soon as possible. The family courts are back in session, albeit often using remote hearings and other options to maintain social distancing. Your attorney may need to get the court to enforce the support order. Even if a judge eventually grants a support modification, this is typically not retroactive. Your spouse must continue to meet the current support obligations.
If you’re not receiving the spousal or child support that the Pennsylvania courts ordered your ex-spouse to pay, our divorce lawyer offers help. At the Law Office of Joanne Kleiner, we’re here to protect your rights and ensure that you receive the child and spousal support you need to pay for essential expenses. You don’t need any more stress during these challenging economic and social times. To schedule a consultation with our Jenkintown attorney, call us at (215) 886-1266 or visit our website.