Adjusting Child Support After COVID-19 Lay-offs
Many parents have been laid off due to the Pennsylvania Stay at Home Order and, while some businesses are slowly reopening, many remain closed or have reduced hours for employees. As a result, it may be extremely difficult for some parents to make child support payments during the phased reopening period. However, that does not mean you do not have options, and there may be legal help out there.
How Child Support Is Determined
Pennsylvania family law courts prioritize child support payments based on a child’s needs, and the funds procured through these payments should always be used for the child’s best interests. This is often enforced through a court order which legally requires one parent to pay child support to the other parent who often has sole custody or physical custody of the child. The courts will calculate these payments based on the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 1910.16, which takes into account:
- How physical custody is divided between parents
- How many children are covered under the order
- Monthly after-tax incomes for each parent
- Additional childcare expenses
Sadly, even economic unrest cannot stop a court from enforcing these orders and the other parent can seek legal action against you if you miss a payment or do not pay enough. Oftentimes, this is because both parents have suffered a decline in income, and just as you need money to pay for rent, so too does the other the parent to provide for your child.
However, Pennsylvania family law courts do understand that each parent’s finances will change over time as job opportunities come and ago. The lay-offs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are no exception, and there are routes by which you can have your child support payments modified or suspended temporarily.
Modifying Child Support
In order to modify child support in Pennsylvania, you must file a Petition for Modification of an Existing Order. Montgomery County allows parents to file a petition online, but you will want to have your case reviewed by a skilled family law attorney first. These forms can be intimidating at first, and you will want to ensure you have clearly laid out your reasons for requesting a modification.
Modifications are often accepted in instances involving:
- Lay-offs and unemployment
- Pay cuts
- Changes in living situations
- Health issues
If you lost your job due to COVID-19, you may have a strong case for modifying your child support payments. The courts may not completely absolve the child support order but may lower the payment amounts to account for the needs of your child and your current income. To ensure they consider every factor, you will want to keep a detailed list of all of your expenses and any additional resources you may have contributed towards the care of your child, including groceries, meals, or other additional expenses you paid for due to the pandemic.
The legal process surrounding modifying child support payments can be difficult to navigate if you do not have a good relationship with the other parent or are not aware of every guideline. That is why, if you need to modify your child support payments due to employment, you should not hesitate to reach out to a well-regarded and knowledgeable family law firm. Call the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. at (610) 645-0100 and speak to an experienced Montgomery County family law attorney about your situation.