By: Leslie Barrows
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Child Support Modification and COVID-19 Coronavirus
Child Support Modification Cases are Expected to Rise Due to COVID-19 Coronavirus
All over the DFW Metroplex, people are feeling the economic impact of the businesses forced to close, employees being laid off, and salaries being cut while families are ordered to stay and home, many of whom may need a child support modification. Even though stimulus money may be on the way and many companies are allowing people to postpone payments, it takes time. Also, the lines and time it takes to process and receive the bolstered unemployment benefits due to the current situation.
We do not need a degree in economics to understand the domino effect of business closures, layoffs, and reductions in staffing in all industries affected by COVID-19 Coronavirus. It will be some time before any of us see the full impact of the majority of the workforce being affected in some way.
There may be parents of children who never had child support ordered and have been working it out with one another individually. That can change when there is a substantial change of economic circumstances in a time like this with pandemic-related shutdowns. Others who do receive child support may not have gone back for a modification in many years and are suddenly looking into going for an increase.
See our related article, Emergency Order on Possession and Access Schedules During COVID-19 Pandemic
Example of Potential Client for Child Support Modification:
Bob owns a local restaurant that was forced to close and only sell take out to. Bob is running low on inventory and hears supply chains are interrupted. He doesn’t know how long he can keep the take out window open. Jimmy is the restaurant server out of work who cannot pay his rent for the house that Bob owns. Rent houses are great income until tenants stop paying, refusing to leave under temporary government protections. The mortgage still needs to be paid, if there is one. Meanwhile, the rent home owner’s wife Judy is a business executive at a firm that just cut salaries for a temporary but indefinite time. While both may be working, the cash flow is affected and Bob, might have to close the restaurant and he is already having a difficult time with the current child support payments for children from a past marriage.
In the above scenario, it is necessary to look at all the numbers to best determine whether a child support modification is an option for Bob, the child support obligor. To find out if he is eligible to file a child support modification due to economic losses tied to the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak, he should call the Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.
Are your kiddos asking you about what’s going on? Not sure how to talk about it with them? Consider the tips in this Psychology Today article, Talking to Kids About Coronavirus.
Eligibility to File a Child Support Modification Due to Coronavirus Income Loss
In Texas, there are several grounds for modification of child support. If you qualify under one of these categories, you can file a case for a child support modification. Note that these are the grounds listed in the Texas family code and apply to all types of situations, including economic changes as a result of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.
First, a child support modification is allowed if the circumstances of the child or person affected by the order have materially and substantially changed since the last order was entered.
Second, a child support modification is allowed if it has been three years since the last order was entered or modified and the amount of child support under the order differs by either 20 percent or $100 from the amount that would be awarded under the child support guidelines.
Material and Substantial Changes: Incomes Affected by COVID-19 Coronavirus
Employment changes are common material and substantial changes that qualify as grounds for a child support modification. How much the change affects the obligor’s ability to pay is what becomes the issue in determining if modification is an option. A few weeks of disproportionate pay is one thing, and a layoff is another. And on the other hand, a substantial increase in the noncustodial parent is also a ground to modify support.
Medical coverage changes can also be material and substantial for purposes of qualifying to ask the Court for a child support modification, whether you are the child support obligor (noncustodial) parent or the recipient (primary) parent.
Additional children, born after the last child support order, as well as children that are now living with a different parent, are additional elements in establishing grounds to modify child support.
Child Support Modifications by Agreement or Going to Court for a New Support Order
Here at the Barrows Firm in Southlake, we always hope for the best for our clients who co-parent and share financial responsibilities for their children. We know that in most families, income increases are easy to establish from paystubs and tax returns, and that makes a child support modification a somewhat straightforward process. However, we also know our clients who have complex incomes from various sources, making it a more arduous task to determine one’s net resources for purposes of establishing a new amount of child support.
Whatever your situation may be, the Barrows Firm has you in good hands, even if right now you are not shaking hands. While social distancing and being ordered to stay home because of COVID-19 Coronavirus, the Barrows Firm can still meet with you by phone and video conference. Attorney Leslie Barrows and her team of talented attorneys, paralegals, and staff can Zoom with you and figure out if and how to best help you with a child support modification.