As the coronavirus pandemic has swept across the United States, the economy in this country has gone through unprecedented changes. A few months ago, the national unemployment rate hovered around 3.5%. Now, the unemployment rate is more likely above 15% of the workforce. This has placed an incredible strain both on those paying child support and those receiving child support. At the Law Offices of Stephanie L. Mahdavi, our Westlake Village family law attorney wants to discuss the process for obtaining a modification for child support orders in California.
The first important thing we need to point out is that you should not make any changes to your monthly child support payment without going through the family court system. Every parent is obligated to continue care for their minor children, and failing to pay child support can result in serious legal penalties, including massive fines and jail time.
However, COVID-19 has rocked the economy and left millions of people unemployed. When there has been a material change of circumstances in a parent’s income since the issuance of a child support order, the court may grant a reduction. Anytime a child support order modification is requested, the income of each parent will be considered. Certainly, there will be many cases of a parent not having an income during this time, but we need to point out that the court considers unemployment insurance benefits to be income for the purposes of child support.
While the courts do have the discretion to modify child support orders retroactively, they cannot generally modify any child support amounts that have already accrued before the date the modification is filed for. If the child support modification request is based on unemployment, then the court is required to make the order retroactive based on the later of (1) the date the motion was served on the other parent or (2) the date in which the parent became unemployed.
Please understand that modifications to child support that occur during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic may very well only be temporary. Unemployment benefits are not designed to last indefinitely, and as soon as you regain employment, the other parent may quickly request another modification to the orders.
If you have experienced a significant financial setback and are paying child support, you may need to explore options for modifying court orders. The COVID-19 pandemic has completely disrupted the lives of millions of Americans. At the Law Offices of Stephanie L. Mahdavi, our qualified and experienced team wants to ensure that you and your child/children are properly cared for. Our Westlake Village child support attorney is ready to discuss your current financial situation and work to ensure you are treated fairly throughout any necessary modification process. You can contact us for a consultation by clicking here or calling 805-379-4550.