Many individuals across the country suffered sudden and unexpected job loss after the onset of COVID-19. Even those who weren’t terminated from their jobs may have been furloughed and found themselves without income as a result. If you’ve recently lost your job and you pay child support, you may be desperate for a way to reduce your financial responsibilities until you have reliable income once again. Keep reading to learn more about modifying your child support payments due to loss of income.
Gather the Right Documents
In order to modify your child support payments, the first thing you’ll need to do is get the right documents together. A family law attorney can best advise you regarding what documents you need. However, in most cases, you’ll need evidence of your termination as well as any financial documents showing your assets.
For the former, a letter of termination is your best proof. If you were terminated verbally, you should request a formal letter of termination from your employer. As far as financial documents go, bank statements are the bare minimum you need. A judge won’t modify your child support payments if you have substantial assets that would enable you to continue paying support despite your job loss.
Understand Your State’s Law
It’s important to understand how child support modifications work in your area, as these laws can vary from state to state. However, most states will allow you to apply for a modification if your income drops by 15% or more. Total job loss, furlough, or significant reduction in your hours due to COVID-19 would certainly meet this requirement. You could also qualify if you’ve already found a new job, but it pays significantly less.
While using a search engine will give you a good idea of what the law for support modification is in your state, the best source of information is a family law attorney. They can best interpret the law for you so that you completely understand how to apply for a modification, as well as how long that support modification would be in effect.
Continue Making Payment If Possible
If there is any way that you can continue making your current child support payments, you should do so. Until a judge modifies your payments, you are still obligated to make the current payments. Not only do missed payments accrue so that you have to pay them later, but being up to date on those payments shows that you’ve been making a sincere effort to meet your child support obligations, which gives a favorable picture to the judge reviewing your case.
Contact the Child Support Office
You or your attorney will need to contact the child support office to inform them of your job loss. You should do this as soon as possible, and no more than 10 days after your change in income. The child support office is frequently a part of the Attorney General’s office and is responsible for collecting and distributing child support payments.
Reach an Agreement with the Other Parent
The simplest method for modifying your child support payments is to reach a voluntary agreement with the parent to whom you make your child support payments. Explain your situation and show them proof of your loss of income. Then, with the help of your attorneys, draft up a new child support payment schedule. This form is often available from the court.
Filing for Approval
Please note that reaching a personal agreement is not the same as a child support modification. After drafting a new payment schedule, you must submit it to a judge, along with a Motion to Modify, for approval. You’ll also need to ensure that you serve a copy to the other parent; even though you reached this agreement together, you’ll want cover all of your bases. Then, the judge must decide whether or not the change is reasonable and in the best interests of the child. They may require a hearing, and if so, ensure that you attend.
If you’ve lost your job or have otherwise had a reduction of income, we can help you to modify your child support payments so that you can better afford them. Contact our offices to schedule a consultation with one of our family law attorneys. We can sit down with you, your ex, and their attorney to reach a fair and reasonable agreement regarding your new child support payments. Then, we’ll help you go through the process of filing with the court for modification.