Life at the moment is entirely stressful. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all aspects of our daily lives. And this novel coronavirus has had far-reaching consequences; putting a strain on businesses and affecting families emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially. Many parents are undergoing layoffs or furloughs, which have affected their ability to make court-ordered child support payments.
If you are one of the many individuals furloughed because of COVID-19, and have to pay child support, you are more than likely in quite a predicament. Here are a few things you need to know about your child support obligations and how a family law attorney can help.
How a child support attorney can help
First off, it’s essential to consult with an experienced child support lawyer to determine your options regarding handling missed payments or modifying your child support order.
A child support attorney will be able to argue in your favor for a compromise and properly articulate a new, temporary agreement during the pandemic. If a compromise is impossible, parents may need to seek court intervention or a form of dispute resolution. As these cases are often very emotional and challenging, it is advisable to have a child support attorney represent your case to find success.
Modifying Child Support Orders
Generally, a temporary change in economic circumstances would not qualify for a change in the payor’s alimony or child support obligations, even temporarily. But these are unprecedented times, and COVID-19 has had a well-known and widespread economic effect worldwide. States have seen the closing down of many businesses. So, a court of equity, like Family Court, may well see fit to provide relief to the payor, especially if the court can see that both the payor and recipient are financially struggling.
Texas Family Code
In Texas, courts may modify the terms of a child support order if the circumstances surrounding it have materially and substantially changed, for the parent or the child, since it was created. The Texas court determines issues such as these according to the Texas Family Code’s guidelines. Which state that the amount of a support payment will be based on a percentage of the parent’s monthly net resources.
Under Texas Family Code 156.401, a court can modify child support if these circumstances are met:
- Three years have passed since the order was rendered;
- The amount of support deviates by 20% or $100 from the amount under the child support guidelines; and
- The order was not the result of an agreement between the parties.
But, Texas courts have also held that orders may be modified even further than these three stipulations. Noting that alteration of a child support order may be approved if:
- The parent experiences a decrease in income such that honouring their commitment in addition to their living expense would not be achievable.
- The parent experiences an involuntary reduction in income.
A Material Change in Circumstances
So, in terms of COVID-19 layoffs, child support lawyers should have a good argument for the court to reduce child support payments. As a significant drop in their income would constitute a material change in circumstances. Similarly, if a parent were furloughed because of the public health precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, their diminished income may pass as a material change in circumstances.
The repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic are evident in everyone’s health and personal lives, in the country and the world. The impact has been vast on the economy as well. If you need to understand this global pandemic’s legal implications and how it affects your life and your family law issues. Get in touch with a child support lawyer to help you through this stressful time.
How We Can Help
As a client of the Law Offices of David Kohm, we want to assure you that your legal matters will be handled with the utmost discretion and privacy. Our many years of legal representation and extensive family law litigation provide you with the security of knowing that we’ll handle your private matters from the first time we meet until the day we achieve a final resolution or settlement. You must be made aware of your legal rights, and we will work to get the best settlement possible for you.
Our Arlington & DFW child support attorneys are ready to help if you ever need them. We serve the residents in the surrounding area as well. Do not hesitate to contact us today to learn more about our family law attorneys.
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