Child Custody

How COVID-19 is Impacting Child Support

Mid-March, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). In a matter of days, states across the nation started issuing orders for businesses to shut their doors, for concerts to be cancelled, for movie theatres to close, for restaurants to stop indoor dining, and so on.

In a matter of weeks, millions of Americans lost their jobs and about four to six weeks later, those who were living paycheck to paycheck (which are most people), started having trouble paying their bills. When unemployed individuals are subject to strict stay-at-home orders and “non-essential” businesses are shuttered, making it difficult to find work, eventually the bills stop getting paid and child support is no exception.

COVID-19 is making it hard for millions of non-custodial parents to pay child support, many of whom have never fallen behind before. If this describes you, do you know the consequences of not paying child support?

Consequences of Not Paying Child Support

Mortgage lenders, banks that have extended auto loans, and even credit card companies are giving borrowers breaks left and right, but is that the case with local child support agencies? No!

If a parent falls behind on child support because they lost their job due to COVID-19, the local child support agency is not going to go easy on them. As a parent skips their child support payments, eventually the local child support agency will activate the various enforcement tools at its disposal, such as:

  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Denial of U.S. passport
  • Suspension of professional and recreational licenses
  • Bank account seizures (including joint bank accounts)
  • Real estate liens
  • Negative credit reporting
  • Tax refund intercept
  • Lottery winning intercept
  • Taking the funds from the economic stimulus check

If you can’t afford your child support payments, what do you do? You are on the hook for child support no matter what until your child turns 21, so you can’t ignore the situation. You can’t stop paying because you’re unemployed, but what you can do is petition the court for a downward modification. Child support is NOT retroactive, and it cannot be reduced from the date you lost your job; therefore, it’s important that you act fast. Otherwise, the debt will continue to accrue according to the existing child support order.

Contact Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C. for your free consultation.