What Proof is Needed to Show you Lost Income, due to COVID-19 and Need Your Child Support Obligation Reduced?
What proof is needed to show you lost income, due to COVID-19 and need your child support obligation reduced?
The question of how to modify child support is often at the forefront of a parent’s mind during economic uncertainty. While many people can view this as an attempt on a parent’s part to avoid their obligations, ensuring that a parent is able to make his support payments without going bankrupt is in the best interests of both parents and especially the children. Many states have similar laws pertaining to child support.
However, I am licensed in Virginia, and this article will be based on my experience. You may be able to extract some of these principles for your specific state, but you should consult with a licensed attorney in your state first.
Generally speaking, a parent can reduce child support payments if he can show that there has been: 1) a material change in circumstances since the last child support order was put in place by a court, and 2) the material change in circumstances warrants the sought-for reduction. In many cases, the material change is based on one parent’s financial circumstances improving or worsening.
However, if a parent’s situation has worsened, such as losing a job, he has to show that this was through no fault of his own. This is to ensure that a parent does not intentionally make his financial situation worse in order to reduce support payments.
If you were laid off or otherwise lost your income because of COVID-19, this should be a material change in circumstances that would justify reducing child support payments. You would need to show proof of your layoff or furlough, which generally is a letter, email, or other written communication showing the date of your layoff and confirming the reason why you are no longer employed. If you still have your job but you caught COVID-19 and therefore cannot work, you would need to show medical records, doctor’s notes, and employments records reflecting this.
You also should be prepared to show what good faith efforts you have made to obtain new employment since you were laid off. A court will not allow a parent to do nothing after a layoff, so similarly to providing proof of efforts for unemployment benefits, you would need to show what job applications, interviews, and other efforts for similar paying jobs you have made.
Bear in mind that, in Virginia, child support is computed based on each party’s gross incomes, which includes unemployment benefits. As the Federal Congress has passed additional unemployment benefits on top of state’s unemployment benefits, it is possible that a party collecting both may not receive much of a reduction if the total unemployment benefits equal or are close to what he was earning through his job prior to being paid off.
You should speak with a licensed attorney in your state prior to filing for a reduction to ensure that any expected reduction would be worth the effort. If so, then you should file as soon as possible, since Virginia (and possibly other states) allow for a reduction in support to be retroactive to when the other party is served with your paperwork.