Modification of Child Support or Alimony Due to COVID-19 Furloughs and Layoffs: Will It Be Permanent?
Florida companies continue laying off and furloughing employees as the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is nowhere in sight. Many of those laid off and furloughed are unsure that they will be able to find a new job after the coronavirus crisis ends.
The loss of income as a result of furloughs and layoffs means that people who do not work during the COVID-19 crisis may not be able to meet their obligation to pay child support and alimony in Florida.
If this sounds like your situation and you cannot continue paying alimony or child support, contact a skilled family law attorney as soon as possible. While those who cannot afford to make support payments can petition the court to modify the order, will the modification, if granted, be permanent?
Schedule a consultation with our attorneys at Donna Hung Law Group to explore your options if you are struggling to pay alimony or child support due to COVID-19.
What happens if I don’t pay child support or alimony due to COVID-19?
If you are unable to meet your child support or spousal support obligation because you lost a job or were furloughed or laid off, you should take legal action immediately.
Contrary to popular belief, your obligation to pay child support or alimony is not automatically terminated when you cannot afford to make court-ordered payments.
Moreover, failure to pay child support or alimony on time can put you in contempt of court, even if you were furloughed or laid off. The penalties associated with being held in contempt of court in Florida include:
- Suspension of a driver’s license
- Wage garnishment
- Jail sentence
- Fines and fees
- Seizure of property
- Judgment and interest
If you can no longer afford to pay alimony or child support in Florida, you should request a modification of the existing order.
How to modify alimony or child support after a furlough or layoff?
If you have been furloughed or laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can request a modification of your obligation based on a substantial change in circumstances.
Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 61.14, parties can modify the terms of a child support and alimony order when the petitioner can prove that they have experienced a substantial change in circumstances.
Typically, a loss of job or reduction in income earned by the party who had an obligation to make monthly payments can qualify as a substantial change in circumstances.
In other words, if you were laid off or furloughed during the COVID-19 crisis, you may ask the court to reduce the amount you are required to pay. However, you must continue to pay alimony and/or child support until a modification is granted and goes into effect.
That is why it is critical to petition the court to modify alimony or child support as soon as possible after the layoff, furlough, demotion, termination of employment, or loss of job/income.
Will the modification be permanent?
Your ex-spouse or the other parent who received alimony or child support, respectively, can petition the court to modify the order again after your financial situation changes.
Thus, the modification may not be permanent if you eventually become employed again or find a new job. However, the court may determine a different amount of child support or alimony based on your new level of income.
Speak with our Orlando child support attorneys at Donna Hung Law Group if you have been laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19 and cannot afford to pay alimony or child support. Call 407-999-0099 for a consultation.