As we continue to grapple with COVID-19 Pandemic, businesses are furloughing or laying off more and more people to cut costs. The economic effects of the pandemic are even more debilitating in Orange County. This is due to so much of our economy relying on the tourism industry. Many of our clients are asking for a reduction in child support because they have been furloughed or laid off.
Failing To Pay Child Support
First and foremost, you cannot unilaterally lower your child support payments to your co-parent. If you fail to pay the court-ordered child support the court may find you in contempt. The court could suspend your driver’s license, or take any other actions necessary including incarceration.
Modifying Child Support
To modify your child support obligation, you must file a Petition for Modification to alter your child support obligation. To qualify for a modification, you must prove there was a substantial and un-foreseeable change in circumstances. You must also file an updated Financial Affidavit, which details your income and expenses with your Petition. It is important to understand the child support amount you owe. It will continue to accrue at the ordered amount unless the court issues an order to modify the obligation, or the parties have a written agreement to reduce or terminate the obligation. The support must increase or decrease by $50.00 or 15%, whichever is greater to qualify, per the statute. That change is considered a substantial change.
Determining Ability To Pay
Further, the court can only retroactively reduce your child support obligation to the date of filing of your Modification Petition. Therefore, it is very important to be proactive if you are experiencing financial hardship because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, or any other reason that qualifies. In determining your ability to pay child support, the court takes into consideration your employment, income, assets, and even unemployment benefits if you are receiving any.