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Modifying Child Support Due to Long COVID

By Sheryl Rentz on August 27, 2021

Cash pulled from a white envelope.

The changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic are still being felt today as businesses, schools, and courts struggle to carve out a return to normalcy. While vaccinations and testing have improved public health and safety, the development of the Delta Variant has stalled progress and led to another serious wave.

In addition to the turmoil of the pandemic, many individuals who did contract the virus have developed long-term symptoms and medical conditions, sometimes referred to as “long COVID.” Ranging from the loss of the ability to smell to lung damage, these conditions have impacted workers ability to maintain their careers and receive a steady income. As a result of these new disabilities, questions must be asked about what assistance workers can receive, including how long COVID could impact their child support obligations.

When Can I Modify Child Support?

Pennsylvania requires non-custodial parents to pay child support to custodial parents based on their differences in income. Our family law courts utilize a complex formula to calculate child support payments, and the amount of money a parent may have to pay can vary drastically between living situations. Over time, however, child support payments may be adjusted due to new incomes, careers, and living situations, and no agreement is set in stone.

If a parent needs to modify child support payments, then they must petition a family law court and demonstrate that they have suffered economic hardships due to:

  • Lay-offs or furlough
  • Pay cuts
  • Illnesses and poor health
  • The loss of a home
  • Sudden injuries, such as those sustained in job-site accidents

For example, during the initial wave of lay-offs at the start of the pandemic, many parents became eligible to have their child support agreements modified. While modifications do not completely override the obligation to pay child support, it can lower payments to an amount that a parent can better afford.

Can I Modify Child Support Due to an Illness or Disability?

Parents can petition to have their child support payments modified if they have suffered an illness or injury that makes it difficult for them to make payments. An illness as damaging as COVID-19 can limit a parent’s ability to work for a short period of time and lead to hefty medical costs if they are hospitalized.  In either situation, a parent can have their payments modified if COVID-19 led to a major economic hardship.

With long COVID, patients may suffer from multiple symptoms for months after an initial infection, which can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Joint pain
  • Difficulties in concentrating
  • Muscle pain
  • Loss of a sense of smell or taste
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulties performing physical or demanding tasks
  • Lung damage caused by pneumonia
  • Brain damage from strokes
  • Heart complications

Long COVID can drastically impact a parent’s ability to work and make a livable income, and the U.S. Department of Health Human Services has even determined that long COVID is considered a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

If you have suffered from long COVID, you may be eligible to have your child support payments modified and should speak to a Montgomery County family law attorney as soon as possible. Our legal team at Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. can guide you through the process of petitioning a family law court for modified payments and advocate for your best interests. To discuss your case in a free initial consultation, call us at (610) 645-0100.

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