Have you recently loss income due to COVID19? Are you worried about meeting your child support obligation?
The numbers over the last few weeks are staggering. With the coronavirus outbreak shutting down businesses throughout America, the numbers of people filing for unemployment have skyrocketed. On April 9th the Department of Labor reported that an additional 6.6 million workers had lost their jobs in the previous week alone, bringing the total to more than 16 million people in the preceding three weeks. In Massachusetts, unemployment claims hit 470,000 on April 9th. Many people are now unable to meet their bills and are struggling. If you pay child support, you are probably worried about how you will meet that obligation.
Everyone’s situation is unique. You may:
- Not lose income initially due to the combination of state unemployment benefits plus federal stimulus package benefits;
- Lose income even with the combination of if your income before unemployment was over approximately $75,000 per year, or ;
- Lose income even though you are not unemployed through reduced hours, loss of bonus, commission or other sources of income.
In Massachusetts, child support is based off of both parties’ income utilizing the child support guidelines. If your income goes down, the guideline amount of child support may also go down. A guideline worksheet is available HERE.
If you have lost income, and are unable to pay child support at the present required amount, you must file a Complaint for Modification requesting that the Court lower your child support obligation. In Massachusetts, child support can only be modified/lowered retroactively to the date that the Complaint was served on the other party. This is why it is important to file your Complaint now to ensure that you get any relief to which you may be entitled.
Even though the courts currently are operating on a limited basis, it still is possible to file your complaint. The Probate and Family Court is directing people to file new pleadings by mail, email, or e-filing. While awaiting your day in Court, it is important to keep paying as much as you can.
The Department of Revenue has issued some guidance regarding child support and COVID19 It is noteworthy that the Department is NOT appearing in Court at this time and if you had a child support matter scheduled within the last month, it will be rescheduled.
In general, it is important to know:
- You need to file a complaint seeking a reduction in support to preserve your rights.
- You need to keep paying if you can.
- Even if you can’t pay 100%, you should pay something.
If you have any questions regarding your child support obligation, please feel free to call the experienced family law attorneys at Wilchins Cosentino & Novins LLP at 781-247-8022 or schedule a call here.