Child Support

If You Can’t Pay Your Court-Ordered Child Support Because of the Effects of Coronavirus…

Child-support and the Coronavirus

What if you can’t pay your court-ordered child support because of the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Everyone is feeling the effects of coronavirus and, for many, the virus has resulted in an abrupt and drastic loss of income in a variety of heartbreaking ways:

  • Maybe you have been laid off with no warning. Let’s say you’ve been living from paycheck to paycheck and now you have no paycheck.  How are you supposed to pay your court-ordered child support with no current income and limited, or no, savings?

Please note: if your child support is being automatically deducted from your paycheck and you no longer have a paycheck, be aware that you are still obligated to pay your child support. More information available through the Texas Attorney General’s Office (TXAG).

  • Or perhaps you own a small business that has been shut down for the duration—a retail shop, a bar, a hair salon, a fitness center, or even a chain of hair salons or fitness centers. Again you now have no income and no assurance that you will be able to reopen your business when the orders are lifted.
  • Or maybe you still have a job, but there will be none of the customary bonuses you depended on, and your spouse just got laid off, which means total family income is much reduced.

Anyone caught in any of these dire circumstances recognizes immediately that he or she simply cannot continue to pay child support at the level established in the divorce decree.  But you must notify the necessary parties in some fashion as soon as you can of the change in your circumstances.  (Many orders require you to notify the other parent and the court in any case of a change in jobs.)   It is critical that you understand that you need to modify the order as soon as possible to avoid being stuck paying arrears later.

Suggestion #1:

Pay something.  Even if you feel you cannot afford the full amount, your child’s needs have not stopped.  Do what you can and be sure to notify the other parent about your new situation which makes full payment impossible.  When unemployment payments begin to arrive, be sure that a portion goes to your support obligation.

How can you file a motion to modify with court closings and even the process server now shut down?

Suggestion #2:

Contact your attorney and ask him or her to file a motion to modify your child support right away.  The important thing is to get on the record immediately the fact that you are requesting a modification of the child support you owe because your circumstances have changed through no fault of your own.  As soon as the pandemic ebbs, make sure you obtain service on your motion to modify and begin to determine if you and the other parent can agree on a new amount of child support.