The economic downturn triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic has created financial difficulties for many divorced couples in Texas. If you have been laid off from your job or are working at reduced pay, or are facing financial challenges in your business due to the coronavirus crisis, you may find it hard to meet your child support payment obligations.
However, any sudden change of circumstances, such as quarantine, Covid-19 illness, job loss, or business closure does not automatically allow you to stop, reduce, or defer your child support payments. You should consult with an experienced Austin child support attorney to understand your best legal options to lower or defer your child support payments.
CARES Act does not Exempt Child Support Arrears
The stimulus payments under the US CARES Act has exempted a number of items, but child support arrears are not one of them. If you owe more than $500 in child support arrears, your stimulus rebate payment under the federal law will be intercepted up to the extent of child support arrears. The payment will be applied to the custodial parent’s child support claim and sent to them appropriately.
File a Petition for Child Support Order Modification
Your only legal option after a change in income, job loss, or another major change of circumstances following the Covid-19 pandemic is to file a petition for child support order modification. A dedicated Austin child support attorney can help you file a suit as soon as possible.
When you have a strong case presented with full evidence, the family court in Texas may decide to retroactively lower your child support payments from the date that you filed your suit. If your child support case hearing has been postponed or rescheduled following coronavirus emergency restrictions, you can request the Office of the Attorney General in Texas for a virtual negotiation.
Rather than waiting for a long time for your petition to be heard in the current circumstances, you should seek advice from a committed Austin child support attorney who will guide you about how to proceed fast. Chances are that the courts in your county may allow for a prompt virtual child support hearing without requiring you to appear in person.
Will Unemployment Benefits Count Towards Child Support?
If you are currently receiving unemployment benefits in the aftermath of the coronavirus emergency, the court will consider these benefits to determine your current net income. This amount will be factored while calculating your modified (lower) child support payments in the new circumstances.
As long as you have no child support payment arrears, any receipt of a stimulus check pursuant to the CARES Act will possibly not affect your child support obligations. Stimulus checks have been designed as an advanced refund of your future tax credit. Therefore, it will not count towards your “net resources” while computing your modified child support payment.
If you have lost your job during the current crisis, you should check your child support order. Most orders in Texas require the payer of child support to notify the recipient parent of your job termination within a week of such occurrence.
Schedule a Consultation with a Competent Family Law Attorney
If you are worried about meeting your child support payment obligations following the Covid-19 crisis, divorce attorney Eric M. Willie, P.C. and his ace legal team is here to help. We have served the people of Austin for more than 20 years, and we will be happy to do the same for you. Call us at 512-478-0834 to schedule a consultation or contact us online.