Currently, there are more than 3,000 reported cases of COVID-19 in California. Keep in mind that testing is limited, which means that we may never get an accurate number of people how many people have caught the virus. Understandably, government officials are working to slow its spread with orders to practice social distancing and staying home, but this has had a negative impact on the economy.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected all aspects of everyday life throughout the nation and the world. The Department of Labor recently reported that unemployment claims have soared to 3.3 million, the highest number of requests in history. As many families face layoffs and economic hardships, some concerns must be addressed.
We at Dan McCandless Law are committed to helping families navigate their legal matters. During these times, many have come to us asking how they can meet their child support obligations or what we can do if a spouse stops paying. Although there are countless questions surrounding family law and COVID-19, we’ll focus on its impact on child and spousal support payments.
Child and Spousal Support Modification in California
At the end of the divorce process, most families are relieved knowing that everything has been settled on, but certain changes in circumstances may require another look. Courts allow modifications to custody and support orders if the person requesting the adjustment can show a “change in circumstances.” Examples for changing a support order may include:
Loss of employment
An increase in the income of either parent
The paying spouse has been incarcerated
A change in custody schedules
Judges will deny a request if the change is not significant, but because the effects of COVID-19 are so widespread, it may be easier to do. If you are a paying parent and find yourself with lost wages due to COVID-19, it’s imperative that you act quickly to have your support orders reviewed. Your original order will remain until it is officially modified.
While the easiest way to go about this is to reach an agreement with the other parent, that is not always feasible. If the parents cannot settle on a new amount, one parent must file a motion with the court. Unfortunately, government orders have reduced or closed courts to the public for much of California.
For now, we recommend beginning the process as soon as possible. According to California’s official Child Support Services COVID-19 update, communication via email, texting, and phone lines remain open, which means you can get started on paperwork. Although court systems have limited availability right now, they are likely working on solutions, such as video hearings. With that being said, we also expect an influx as soon as the courts reopen with parents and former spouses in the same situation, so it’s best to get in “line” sooner rather than later.
Our Divorce Modifications Attorney is Here to Help
If you have experienced a loss of income that is affecting your ability to pay court-ordered support, it’s in your best interest to contact an attorney. Child and spousal support are complex matters alone, and with the compounding stresses of the pandemic, an experienced attorney can help. At Dan McCandless Law, our team will provide insight on the best way to handle your modification request, as well as any complications that may arise connected to your individual circumstances. We know that these are uncertain times, but we are committed to guiding our clients through this difficult process every step of the way.
Schedule a virtual consultation with Dan McCandless Law today for questions regarding your child or spousal support matters. You can reach us by calling us at (858) 266-9171 or by filling out our online form. Stay safe and stay healthy.