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COVID 19 Impact on Custody and Parenting Time

With layoffs accelerating as coronavirus disrupts the American economy, many child and spousal support payors and payees will be faced with reductions in salary or income. Legal issues may arise as a result of COVID-19 for those with an existing support order. Without taking immediate legal action, those with support orders in place could find themselves in distressing financial circumstances, and some could face the assessment of interest, penalties, fines, and enforcement proceedings.

A child or spousal support order does not automatically terminate or modify on the date that either the support payor’s or support payee’s income was reduced. Whether you are a support payor or a support payee, you must immediately seek a modification of your court order when material changes to your financial circumstances arise. An agreement with the other party to temporarily modify a support obligation is not necessarily going to assist you given that such informal agreements are not enforceable in court. Thus, it is imperative that if you come to such an agreement, you execute a new Stipulation and Order to ensure the modifications are subject to court order. In the alternative, if you are not able to come to agreement independently, we can assist in analyzing the circumstances and negotiating on your behalf.

A child or spousal support order can be retroactively modified to the date on which you file a request for an order modifying or terminating your support obligation. Given the current court closures, parties may not be able to file requests for new orders such that agreements are a best bet to ensure fair support amounts. By the same token, despite that new requests may not be technically “filed” by the court during this time, if we send a new request for orders which is “received” by the court, we can make arguments on your behalf for a retroactive modification, which may be successful depending on anticipated changes to the law. To the extent that you are in need of a modification to your support obligation, you should contact our office immediately for further assistance/advice.

Likewise, if you don’t yet have support orders in place but need help determining what is appropriate in your case and negotiating with the other side while the court isn’t available to make orders, we are here to help.

Contact the offices of Bremer Whyte Brown & O’Meara LLP today to learn more about COVID-19 and its effects on child support and spousal support orders, and to get help modifying or obtaining orders in your matter.