A job loss does not automatically authorize you to change a parent’s child support obligations. Penalizations may incur if you fail to pay your child support without taking the appropriate steps, even if you have lost your job.
Here’s what you need to know about changing your child support obligations during COVID-19.
How a Job Loss Can Affect Your Child Support Obligations
Modifying a Child Support Order
In New York, for example, you may only officially decrease your child support payments by applying to the Family Court for a downward modification of the order. When a parent has lost their job, the court may grant such modification under either of the following circumstances:
- Substantial Change in Circumstances. If a parent’s income or the cost of raising a child has substantially changed, the court may adjust the child support, either upward or downward.
- Involuntary change in income. If either parent’s gross income has decreased by 15% or more since the court entered, modified, or adjusted the order, the parent can seek a downward modification of child support.
In either case, the parent seeking downward modification must demonstrate that they are making a good-faith effort to seek new employment and show that they cannot earn income at a similar level.
Unlike the early days of COVID-19 where all courts were closed except for essential business, courts in every region are now accepting child support modification filings, both virtually or in-person.
What to Do If You Have Lost Your Job During the Pandemic
You should file a petition to modify your child support order as soon as possible. In the meantime, you should continue with your child support payments to the extent possible. Talk to your co-parent about the problem–they may agree to temporarily reduce or suspend payments until you find a new job. Even if you can only pay a fraction of your court-ordered payments, your effort will make a good impression with the Family Court–and show your dedication to supporting your child.