The COVID-19 virus continues to impact every aspect of society, including health systems, businesses, the legal system, the economy, and ultimately everyone’s personal life. Substantial cultural and financial changes have changed the way millions of Americans function in the matter of a few short months. For small business owners, the requirement to shutter their doors caused millions of workers to lose income and file for unemployment. For parents, difficult decisions need to be made quickly regarding whether or not to send children back to school, participate in virtual education or homeschool. When parents face a loss of income, along with an inability to find gainful employment, they experience a devastating blow to their financial security which directly impacts their ability to pay their child support obligations. With less income, and completely novel and unique financial obligations now required for children, divorced parents need to take time to consider their financial obligations and child support payments in light of a global pandemic.
Federal Financial Relief
As a divorced parent struggling financially due to the COVID-19 outbreak, you may have the ability to find some financial relief through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This federal act provided relief to both individuals and businesses suffering financially as a result of COVID-19. You may have already received your stimulus check which totaled up to $1,200 per person, and $500 per minor child under the age of 17. Additionally, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides certain employers the ability to provide up to 80 hours of sick leave to certain full-time employees that qualify.
Many divorced parents remain curious whether or not this additional income will be considered income for child support purposes. While the federal government has not given specific advice regarding this issue, the fact that the CARES Act payments are one-time payments likely will not change your financial situation enough to alter any child support obligations. However, if you are delinquent in your child support obligations, you may not have received your stimulus payment under the CARES Act. In some cases, the Treasury Offset Program may take any federal tax returns or other federal payments if a parent failed to pay their child support obligations. To determine if you are on this federal list, you can contact the Internal Revenue Service at 1-800-304-3107.
California Financial Relief
The state of California was one of the states hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis. The California state government has provided some of those residents financially impacted by COVID-19 to apply for state unemployment insurance (UI) or paid family leave. Additionally, if you find that your child’s school will remain closed for the school year and participate in virtual learning, you may also qualify for UI benefits as you stay home to take care of your children.
Child Support Payment Modification Orders
If you are one of the many divorced parents that faced devastating financial losses as a result of your employer either temporarily or permanently closing, you may worry about how you will provide financial support to your child during this COVID-19 crisis. While in some cases parents who qualify for UI benefits may deduct child support payments from unemployment wages, or may find new employment, many divorced parents feel the financial strain as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
With the expectation that this global pandemic will not change anytime in the near future, you may want to consider whether or not to request a child support modification. First, it is important to never stop making child support payments, as this many lead to additional fines and possible legal actions. However, if you truly can not afford your child support payments you have the option of negotiating a new child support payment schedule with the other parent of your child, or request a child support modification through the courts.
Court Ordered Child Support Modifications
Like all other areas of the United States, the legal system has not been immune to the impact from COVID-19. As a result, many family courts are closed except for emergency matters that would directly affect the health and safety of children. If you make the decision to file a child support modification order, it may take some time before the matter is decided. However, in most cases, court orders are retroactive in nature, meaning that whenever you make the decision to file, if a judge agrees to your modification of child support it will be retroactive to the day you filed your request.
Requesting a Child Support Modification From The Other Parent
In some cases, you may have the ability to work with your child’s other parent to develop a new child support determination based on your inability to make full payments. In some cases, California Child Support Services can work with parents to develop a new agreement between spouses regarding child support payments given the unique circumstances that now exist.
How Support Pay Can Help
As parents attempt to navigate this “new normal,” many parents realize that some expenses regarding their children no longer exist, while new expenses have appeared. While a child may not need school uniforms and activity fees, they may now need a new laptop, webcam, or even a tutor to help them academically. In some cases, a parent may need to hire additional help regarding care as they must still go to the office and not stay in the home while their child attends school virtually online.
Parents can address all of these additional and novel expenses through SupportPay. This unique web application allows both parents to create, track and pay all child expenses. With the ability to manage child support expenses in one application from the web or any mobile device, parents have the ability to manage the entire child support payment process while creating a certified record for compliance, court and tax purposes. As you move through this unique time in modern history, take time to seriously consider what additional expenses your child will incur, and allocate them properly between parents.
Nearly 300 million parents in the United States exchange over $990 billion dollars every year in child support. With the next few months and years potentially causing even more financial disruption and challenges, SupportPay can provide a simple solution for both parents to navigate child support calculations, bills, payments, receipts, documents, and communications regarding the needs of their child. As the COVID-19 virus continues to impact all of our lives, know that you have options available to you regarding your child support payments during this COVID-19 global pandemic.