Can I Modify My Child Support Amount Because Of COVID-19?
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown many families into financial crisis as employers have been forced to close their doors, have laid off workers, severely reduced employee hours, and/or placed others on furlough. America is facing record unemployment claims. Despite the economic hardship you may be suffering as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, your existing child support ordered payments will continue to accrue as if your income has not changed until there is a court order allowing you to modify your payment. You may be very tempted to simply not pay your child support during this financially difficult time, or pay less than the ordered amount, but unless you have a written agreement with the other parent agreeing to this deviation in payment, you could be opening yourself up to major problems down the line as the child support arrearages accrue. In some instances, enforcement actions to collect child support arrearages can include levying on your bank account, garnishing your wages, seizing your tax refunds, barring your ability to obtain and/or keep a passport, and you may even be found in contempt of court.
In Florida, an involuntary decrease of income or loss of employment is considered valid grounds for lowering the amount of child support payment. While Florida courts remain closed to most in person hearings, they still are moving cases along by conducting teleconferencing and ZOOM hearings, and there is no prohibition against initiating new proceedings. As such, if you have incurred a financial hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic which has impacted your ability to pay your child support, do not delay in seeking a modification from the court. Even though it may take some time to have your request for modification heard by the court, you may be entitled to a retroactive modification back to the date of when you filed your request – so time really is of the essence.
If you have questions or concerns about your options if you are unsure about being able to pay your child support obligation or seek a modification due to COVID-19, an experienced Tampa child support attorney can try to assist. Contact The Law Office of Laura A. Olson, P.A. for more information.