As the entire traditional landscape of daily life changes for Americans as a result of the COVID-19 virus, the expectation is that strict quarantine and shelter-in-place measures may occur again. Business owners, workers, and society as a whole have faced astronomical changes in just a few short months. Many business have had to make the devastating decision to shutter their doors and let go of employees, while other business owners have had the ability to keep workers but only at a fraction of their previous wages. Workers face financially difficult decisions, including the need to apply for unemployment or look for a new career or job. In the meantime, families have not escaped the emotional and financial toll caused by COVID-19.
Many parents now must make the decision whether or not to send their child back to school, attempt virtual learning online, or homeschool. As a result, the financial challenges faced by families is a unique one in the face of a global pandemic. With less income, many parents remain unable to financially support their children and make child support payments, while the financial needs of children have substantially changed in just a matter of months. Consequently, many divorced parents have questions regarding child support and their financial obligations in the face of an unprecedented pandemic. Some of the answers to frequently asked questions related to COVID-19 and child support payments in the state of Texas are listed below.
Can I Get Help From the Federal Government?
Yes. The federal government provided some financial relief through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). You may have received a check in the mail or as a direct deposit, which totaled up to $1,200 per person and up to $500 per minor child (under the age of 17). However, if you were delinquent in any of your child support payments, it is possible you did not receive this stimulus check as the federal government has the legal right to take federal payments if a parent fails to make child support payment according to a court order under the Treasury Offset Program. If you failed to receive a stimulus payment through the CARES Act, you may find answers by contacting the Internal Revenue Service at 1-800-304-3107. Additionally, the federal government is considering additional financial relief in the future through similar payments due to the financial devastation of COVID-19.
Can I Get Help From the State of Texas?
Yes. The state of Texas has provided some help to their citizens that felt the financial impact of COVID-19 through a loss of unemployment. Specifically, the Texas Workforce Commission encourages any worker to contact them online or at 1-800-939-6631 to help them determine the individual’s eligibility to receive unemployment benefits. Any worker in the state of Texas also has the ability to contact Unemployment Benefit Services, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in order to discuss unemployment benefits.
Can I Modify My Child Support Payment Modification Order?
Yes. The Child Support Division of the Attorney General of Texas indicates that some family court issues may be addressed through “virtual negotiation.” Many answers can be found at the Texas Attorney General’s Child Support and COVID-19 webpage. Consider visiting with a Child Support Division specialist in order to determine what the process would be for you to file and receive a child support payment modification in the state of Texas. It is important to remember that you must continue to make all of your child support payments according to your court order until a new modification order is issued under the law. Failure to do so could result in additional fines or even legal actions against you.
Can I Request a Child Support Payment Modification From The Other Parent?
Yes. In certain circumstances, divorced parents may simply want to work together to address the financial needs of their child as soon as possible as they await a decision from a family court regarding child support payment calculations or a possible child support modification order. If you are planning on requesting a child support payment modification from the other parent, consider how best to handle the financial logistics of such a situation by using a web and mobile-based application such as SupportPay. This platform allows both parents to create a listing of all expenses related to a child, as well as track and pay for all of those expenses directly online.
How Do I Handle My Child’s Unique Financial Changes Due to COVID-19?
Many students are not returning to the classroom in person, and therefore common expenses such as backpacks, school uniforms, and activity fees no longer apply. Additionally, many children no longer have the ability to attend extra-curricular activities such as sports, theatre classes, or dance classes. However, children may have new expenses such as the need for a new laptop, webcam, software, or online extracurricular activities. In other cases, a parent may need to hire someone to watch their child more often as they are not in school and the parent still needs to work outside the home.
Take the time to write down all of the expenses that now no longer apply and all of the new expenses you must pay in order to ensure the academic and emotional success of your child. Using an application such as SupportPay will allow you to manage all of your child support expenses in one place online, giving both parents full control and access to manage all of the financial obligations related to their child.
What Resources Exist To Help if COVID-19 Affected My Ability to Make Child Support Payments?
Almost 300 million parents in the United States transfer over $990 billion dollars yearly between each other related to the financial support of their child and child support payments. If you are struggling financially and feel unable to comfortably continue making your child support payments, consider taking advantage of some of the federal and state programs that were created to help those affected by COVID-19.
As this global pandemic will likely continue to impact the United States for the next few months, or even years to come, taking advantage of useful tools such as SupportPay can allow you to navigate the typically challenging areas of child support calculations, division of financial obligations, receipts, documents, payments, and communications easily from one portal. SupportPay affords parents the ability to create, track, and pay all child care expenses and manage the entire child support payment process while creating a complete record easily used for legal compliance, court, and tax purposes, helping divorced parents navigate this unprecedented time in our nation’s modern history.