Child Support Modification: How to Reduce Your Obligation Due to COVID-19?
As the coronavirus crisis impacted nearly every parent in Florida, many divorced parents with a child support obligation have had difficulties with meeting their obligation due to the pandemic’s significant effects on the economy.
Nearly 2 million Floridians have filed unemployment claims from the beginning of the pandemic, and many of these individuals who became unemployed are divorced parents who had been ordered to make support payments.
If this sounds like your situation, it makes sense to wonder, “Can I reduce my child support payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic?” This is not the typical “yes-or-no” question because much depends on your particular circumstances.
Can a Parent Lower Child Support Due to Coronavirus?
If the coronavirus crisis has diminished your ability to continue making child support payments because you were laid off, furloughed, or your work hours were reduced due to business closures, you may be able to request a modification of your family court order.
Florida, like many other states, has seen an increased demand for child support and alimony modifications since the beginning of the pandemic. But can the obligor parent actually lower their child support obligation during the COVID-19 pandemic? That depends on the facts in your case.
In Florida, you can request a modification regardless of whether you are paying or receiving child support. Under Florida’s family law, there are specific grounds for a modification of a family court order, including:
- Reduction in or loss of income
- Loss of job (unemployment)
- Changes in childcare expenses
- Changes in healthcare costs
- Changes in the time-sharing schedule
Under FSS 61.30 (1)(b), the change in circumstances must create a difference in the child support order of at least 15% or $50, whichever is greater, in order to warrant a modification. The issue with a modification may involve whether or not this change is permanent. A request to abate or hold off on paying child support may be appropriate.
How Can You Modify Child Support When Florida Courts Are Closed?
Florida state courts suspended most in-person proceedings until after the Fourth of July holiday, so how can a parent request a child support modification when courts are closed during the coronavirus crisis?
During these trying times, it is vital to consider collaborative law and mediation to address your inability to pay child support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mediation can be a helpful solution if you are looking for a quick and legally binding reevaluation of your income to lower your child support obligation during these uncertain times. Previously, we talked about the pros and cons of mediation in Florida divorces.
However, you and your spouse must be willing to compromise to reach a mutually beneficial solution. Otherwise, neither collaboration nor mediation would work. Read more about resolving disputes over child support in Florida.
Contact our Orlando family attorneys if you have questions about modifying your support obligation during the coronavirus crisis or need help in mediating a dispute with your ex-spouse. Reach out to Donna Hung Law Group to receive a case review. Call at 407-999-0099 today.