MODIFICATION OF CHILD SUPPORT AND CORONAVIRUS
With private sector employment falling by over 22% in the Hudson Valley region from this time last year, it is anticipated that there will be a substantial increase in applications for modification of child support. Here are some thoughts to bear in mind if you have experienced a reduction in your income, or you receive child support and are worried about that support being reduced.
- Modifications require a change in circumstance.
Before the Court will grant a modification of child support, the person filing the petition (the “petitioner”) must make a showing that there has been a change in circumstance from the date the child support was ordered. You should keep anything you receive in writing from your employer advising that you are being furloughed or laid off.
- Modifications are retroactive to the date of filing
The court will only make a modification of child support retroactive to the filing date of the petition, regardless of when the change in circumstance warranting that modification occurred. If you have lost some or all of your income, you should consider filing to modify your support obligations as soon as possible.
- Effort to replace the lost income must be shown
The court will look to ensure that you have sought to replace your lost income before granting a modification of child support. This can be documented through a job-search diary in which you list every job posting you have applied to, every email you have sent, every interview you have attended, and the outcome of each application. This can be set out in table format, with copies of supporting documentation attached behind.
- Child support can be based upon unemployment or financial support from others
The court will not eliminate your child support entirely even if you are not working at present. The court will include unemployment insurance as income for the basis of determining child support. If you are receiving financial assistance from someone, such as a family member or partner, on a regular basis, then the court can include that financial support as income as well.
- Modification petitions can take a long time to be resolved
Even before the current Covid-19 crisis, Family Courts throughout the Hudson Valley were struggling to keep up with the flow of petitions. With the unprecedented closing of the court system for over three months, there will be a tremendous backlog of cases for the courts to work through before they can even begin addressing the flood of new cases that is expected. Until the court orders otherwise, your existing child support obligation continues, and you should make every effort to pay in full and on time. Failing to do so can result in enforcement proceedings against you.
Contact the law offices of Jacobowitz & Gubits, LLP, today to discuss whether you would qualify for a modification of child support.
This is not intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney for advice regarding your specific situation.
Martin Butcher is senior counsel with the firm and practices Matrimonial and Family Law, and Bankruptcy.
He can be reached by phone at 866-303-9595 toll free or 845-764-9656 and by email.