How Does Loss of Income Due to COVID-19 Affect Your Child Support Obligation?
The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the economy since its outbreak in early 2020. Even if you’re not one of the 20 million Americans who have lost their jobs, you may have seen your wages or other income reduced. If so, this could impact your ability to meet your child support obligation. The question is, do you have any legal recourse?
The fact that you lose your job or suffer a reduction in pay doesn’t mean you can stop paying child support or start paying less. You must continue complying with all court orders in your case or you risk being subject to support enforcement measures.
However, you may qualify for a modification of your child support obligation. Under Arizona law, a parent can ask for a modification when they have experienced a substantial change in circumstances. There are a variety of factors that a court may find warrant a modification. For example:
- One of the parents has seen a sizable decrease or increase in their earnings.
- The parents have switched health insurance, and now the other parent is covering the child under their insurance.
- The child has outgrown day care, eliminating that cost.
- A child becomes emancipated, which ends the child support obligation for that child.
- A parent’s visitation time has decreased or increased, so the child is spending more or less time with that parent.
As for a change in income, a modification may be appropriate if the current support order would decrease by at least 15% or $50 a month, whichever is less.
In addition, the substantial change in circumstances must be continuing rather than temporary or short-term. For example, a temporary furlough due to the pandemic might not qualify as a substantial change if the parent’s employer says the furlough will only last a couple of months.
However, if your unemployment has persisted, you may be able to obtain a modification. According to a September 2020 report from the Pew Research Center, half of Americans who reported a job loss at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic remained unemployed. Further, unemployment claims nationally were reported at 900,000 in January 2021.
If you’re struggling to keep up with your obligation, you should speak to a Scottsdale child support lawyer as soon as possible. At Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale, Arizona, we help parents with a full range of child support and custody matters. Call us at 602-789-3497 or contact us online to schedule a complimentary consultation.