How Do Job Losses Impact Spousal and Child Support?

Parents and child sitting on bed and parents are arguing.

Lost your primary income source or job because of the pandemic? You aren’t alone. Over 20M jobs were lost and some businesses have shut down leaving household finances reeling. Many folks are worried about keeping up with their spousal support and child support obligations.  

Here are a few things to remember if you experience problems keeping up:  

  • Support obligations are based upon your financial circumstances and income during the time the order or agreement is set. These orders or agreements may be difficult to modify unless there’s a significant change in your ability to pay and your circumstances. 
  • Go over your order or agreement; it might dictate the circumstances that justify seeking a modification. Also, it might require an alternative dispute resolution, like mediation, before you seek relief from the courts 
  • Child support payments are always modifiable based upon a significant change in circumstances. On the other hand, spousal support payments might be non-modifiable in duration or amount or both. 
  • The support recipient (that is, your ex-spouse) might need the funds to cover their own expenses of living as well as the kids’. Just like you, the support recipient has to have a roof over their head, as well as the ability to put food on the table for the kids. 
  • A lot of courts are running at limited capacity and have put new procedures in place to handle the pandemic crisis; so, it might be challenging to receive instant relief from the courts.  
  • Talk to your ex about your present circumstances. They might be willing to work with you in order to figure out a solution. If you don’t communicate, but instead stop sending payments without notice, your ex will be a lot less likely to negotiate a solution to the problem. 
  • Also, if you simply stop paying or unilaterally decrease support payments, the existing order remains in place until a new order has been filed with the court. Even if your ex agrees to accept a lower support amount, they can come back any time in the future and collect all of the arrears plus interest. Before decreasing support, it is imperative to either file with the court a request to decrease support or a Stipulation and Order signed by you and your ex agreeing to a new support amount. 

If you’re worried about your ability to keep up due to circumstances beyond your control, give us a call to discuss your options. 

More questions about the collaborative divorce process? Contact Collaborative Practice San Diego today! 

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