Today we are living in a world that just a few weeks to a month or two ago, most of us never would have imagined. As we face our new reality, we rush to put systems in place that will allow us a semblance of normalcy and keep us closer to our routines and order from before. For parents who rely on child support payments from their formal partners, there's a big question looming: How will coronavirus impact child support? While things are still somewhat up in the air and some particularities may depend on how long our present situation lasts, we are doing our best to answer this question today.
The other parent may not be able to afford to pay you.
Across the nation, people are losing their jobs. Whether it's because they closely interacted with the public in their job and can no longer work due to shelter-in-place orders or because their company decided to make cuts to deal with the dip in the economy, the financial repercussions of job loss mean that a lot of people who owe child support may be struggling to pay it. If your former partner, like so many, has suffered from a lay off, he or she may not currently be able to pay you the money you are owed.
As you likely are aware, in California, most of the time the court follows what is referred to as “guideline support”. Guideline support is calculated using a formula, often utilizing the programs DissoMaster or Xspouse. Two of the major components of the formula are each parent's custody timeshare and each parent's gross income. If yours or the other parent's gross income has had a change, this likely will result in a change in the amount ordered as support.
Closure of state Child and Family Services offices may make it difficult for some to make payments.
If the other parent made in person payments at an office location, he or she will no longer be able to do so. However, they can still make payments online or on the phone, so this should only be an issue if they do not have internet or telephone access, either.
If continued non-payment occurs, you can take your spouse to court – but may not be heard right away
Family courts have modified their operations heavily due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Courts shut down for some time in March 2020; fortunately, most courts have reopened with modified operations, including most allowing (or even requiring) remote appearances. Unfortunately, there is still a backlog from the closure period and modified operations have their hiccups.
If your case is currently being handled by DCFS, there may be a process you can initiate through them, depending on your case specifics.
If you are struggling with these issues or have questions about what you can do — whether you're a parent who needs to pay child support or one who relies on payments to care for your children — our team is here to help. Give us a call today to discuss your options!