Modification of Child Support Due to Loss of Income During COVID-19

One major concern during the COVID-19 crisis, felt by a significant number of Americans is an interruption in income. Due to state and federal government regulations, across the country, millions of Americans are facing unemployment or a reduction in their salaries. This has had a major impact on the ability of many Americans to pay child support. One question many people are asking during this crisis is, what happens to my child support obligation if I lose my job?

This is a complex issue that could create intense litigation. If you lose part of your income because of effects of the Corona crisis, you may be eligible to modify your current child support obligation. However, this does not happen automatically. Just because you lose your income does not mean your child support obligation automatically goes away. If you have questions about how a loss in income because of COVID-19 impacts your child support obligations, contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC to speak with an experienced family law attorney today.

The regulations in place because of COVID-19 do not halt child support obligations. Even during this period of economic uncertainty, court Orders remain in effect. If you refuse to follow you Child Support Order, you could face contempt of court, fines or even jail. However, if you have lost income during this period, you may be eligible to modify your child support obligations through court proceedings. These proceedings are complex and often contentious, but often necessary when one parent is unable to pay because of a loss in income.

How child support is calculated

A parent's child support obligation is based on many factors. The North Carolina Child Support Guidelines are often the basis for determining a child support obligation. The process of determining how much child support a parent must pay takes into account factors such as income, how often the child stays with the parent, cost of child-care, and cost of health insurance. What a court considers to be income in determining a parent's child support obligation is broad. It includes W-2 income, investment income, bonuses, and government benefits.

How child support obligations are enforced

If a parent violates a Child Support Order, the most common means of enforcement is contempt proceedings. Contempt proceedings are serious and can even result in jail time. In order to prevail in a contempt proceeding, the party brining the contempt charge must be able to show that the other party willfully disobeyed the court Order. They must show that the parent who failed to follow the Child Support Order had the ability to comply with the Order and chose not to. This is a complex issue, especially when one party loses their income due to circumstances out of their control. Losing a job could have a significant impact on a party's ability to comply with the Child Support Order.

When child support obligations are modifiable

Child Support Orders are modifiable upon a showing of a change in circumstances effecting a parent's ability to pay, or the child's needs. This first prong, a change in circumstances in a parent's ability to pay is especially important during this period of economic uncertainty. If a parent loses their job or part of their income because of events out of their control, such as COVID-19, they will likely be able to modify their child support obligation. However, if a parent voluntarily chooses to leave their job, or voluntarily takes a position making less money, a Court will be unlikely to modify child support for the parent who chose to make less money.

How to modify child support

As discussed above, just because you lose your job does not mean that your child support obligation is automatically terminated or modified. A parent who loses their job because of circumstances out of their control must still petition the court to modify child support. This process if often complex and heated. Due to the serious consequences associated with failing to abide by a Child Support Order, it is important to have an experienced and knowledgeable attorney fighting for you. The family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have years of experience fighting for fair child support obligations.

Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today

If you have lost your job or part of your income because of COVID-19, we know it can influence your ability to pay child support. If you have questions about modifying child support or how a loss in income due to COVID-19 impacts your obligations, contact an experienced family law attorney at Arnold & Smith, PLLC today.