COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the American economy. The unemployment rate in the U.S. was at a staggering 14.7% compared to just 4.4% only one month prior. In Texas alone, more than 2.3 million people have filed for unemployment since the middle of March.
You may be concerned now not only because of COVID-19 and economic troubles in the U.S., but also because your ex recently lost their job and is no longer paying child support.
This is an unfortunate situation, especially at a time where you may be facing a lack of job security as well. You want to make sure you can provide for your children, even though there is less money coming in for them every month.
Don’t fret: You have options. And with the right help on your side, you and your family can get through these difficult circumstances.
What Happens If Your Ex Has Stopped Paying Child Support
Even if your ex lost their job, it doesn’t mean they can just stop making child support payments. Instead, they have to go to court and modify the order. They would need to contact their own attorney as soon as they lose their job and then request a hearing to change the child support order and lower their monthly payments.
Keep in mind that it can take months to get a court hearing. The Texas courts have been closed during COVID-19 and when they get back up and running, it could take a while for them to hear your case.
If your ex stops child support payments on their own but eventually does get an approved modification, then they still likely owe you all those back payments for child support. It all depends on what the judge rules.
Your ex will definitely have a strong case to prove that they cannot make payments anymore – or will need to make lower payments – if they were suddenly laid off. That is a completely valid reason. But, they must go about it the proper way under the eyes of the law, or else they are in violation of the original court order that determined the amount of child support in the first place.
If your ex starts receiving unemployment benefits, then the court will consider that income, and will calculate the modified child support payment based on how much your ex is receiving. The federal government is giving out extra unemployment of $600 per unemployment check up until July 31, 2020, so that would factor into the child support payment as well. That program could be extended – just keep your eyes on the news to see what happens in the coming weeks.
A New Job or Total Loss of Income
As soon as your ex gets a new job, even if it pays significantly less than their old one, you’d still get child support – it would just be less than before. If your ex isn’t bringing in income at all, the court might suspend those payments. However, it would only be temporary.
If your ex doesn’t have any income, including unemployment, they wouldn’t be able to pay for other things in their life either, so that’s a worst-case scenario. Keep in mind that your ex will have to prove they don’t have any income whatsoever coming in. If they are lying, you could use communication with them and posts on social media about their financial situation against them.
Communicating with Your Ex
You can communicate with your ex regarding child support, but it’s best to do so with an attorney advising you. Otherwise, you could say things that would not reflect favorably upon you when you return to court. Perhaps you and your attorney can work something out with your ex where they keep paying what they can until the court reopens. It’s always a possibility; just remember to be professional and respectful in these situations to avoid conflict.
Protecting Yourself and Your Family During These Tough Times
If you’re also facing a layoff or tumultuous economic circumstances due to COVID-19, you should file for unemployment benefits if you’re eligible.
States also have food stamp, welfare and healthcare programs you can apply for if you cannot afford the essentials. Your benefits will be higher if you have more than one child. You should also make sure you received your government stimulus check or look into why it may be delayed. Each person received $1,200, and each family received $500 per child.
As always, stay on top of your finances by having an emergency fund, paying down credit cards and cutting out non-essentials.
Finding a Family Law Attorney
It’s always best to work out issues with your ex with your family law attorney at your side. You need someone in your corner who will help you figure out solutions to the issues you’re facing as well as ensure you come to a fair agreement with your ex. If you’re on your own, you may not get what you and your children need during these times.
An attorney will also be able to figure out legal jargon and file motions with the court for you. This comes in handy, especially because you’re juggling a job or looking for work, homeschooling and taking care of your children right now all on your own. You just don’t have the time or energy to handle your ex and child support issues right now.
So, if you’re dealing with an ex who is not paying child support due to a layoff, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of the experienced attorneys at Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC. We’re here to help you. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and figure out how to deal with Coronavirus and child support issues at this time.