Part II – The Virus Cost Me My Job. Do I Still Have to Pay Child Support?

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, all types of businesses have been ordered to close their doors. This means that millions of Americans have lost their jobs and have been forced to file for unemployment. With rent, mortgage, and other bills stacking up, people are finding it difficult to pay not only these bills but child support as well.

Can I modify my ordered child support?
Since there is no definitive timeline for the reopening of non-essential businesses, people who owe child support but are unable to make payments due to COVID-19 should consider modifying their child support payments. Under N.C. Gen. Stat. 50-13.7, an order for child support may be modified upon motion in the cause and a showing of changed circumstances by either party. When making your motion to the court it is important to make it clear that your loss of income was no fault of your own, but rather caused by the pandemic.

If I cannot pay child support, when is the right time to take action?
Right now, there is a lot of uncertainty in the courts and in the economy. Even though most of the country is on hold, there are still thousands of on-going child support cases that are pending to be heard. Another difficulty is deciding if this is even the right time to bring a child support suit. Both the potential payor and payee to child support may be financially struggling. For this reason, the payee may be interested in bringing suit. However, if the payor finds himself out of work or furloughed, then the payee may not stand to receive much child support ordered by the court.

Where does unemployment factor in?
If the payor had been receiving unemployment checks before the pandemic, then it is possible that the payor will have to use that money to pay child support when due. However, if the payor who lost their job during COVID-19 is receiving unemployment checks in an amount less than what their past salary was, then he may be able to modify a child support order to reflect this change of income.

In any case, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney when it comes to modifications to child support. A potential payee needs to weigh the state of the economy versus the needs of the child to determine whether it is worth putting the time and money into bringing a child support case during this pandemic.