When New York on PAUSE took effect on March 22, it affected thousands of businesses and their employees. All companies offering non-essential services were subjected to a mandatory closure, and workers whose jobs could not be transitioned online were laid off indefinitely. Consequently, businesses like hairstyling salons, theaters, gyms, and clothing stores have been shuttered until the crisis abates.
If you are a divorced parent with a child support order in place, then you may be wondering how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect support obligations. Perhaps you were laid off or experienced a substantial cutback in your weekly hours, making it difficult to both pay child support and meet your basic living needs. If you’re the parent receiving support, then you may be worried that your ex will simply stop paying.
All child support orders remain in effect
New York may be on pause, but child support obligations are not. If there is an order in place, then it remains valid and enforceable. This means that if you are a payor with reduced income (or no income at all), then you need to file to have the support order modified quickly. You can’t simply cite economic hardship and stop paying.
Unless your divorce settlement agreement states otherwise, you can seek a support modification in New York if:
- At least three years have passed since the order was issued or modified.
- There has been a 15% change in either parent’s income
- There is a substantial change in circumstances
If the court grants a modification, then it is retroactive to the date that you filed your petition, so the sooner you see an attorney about your situation, the more relief you stand to gain financially. Bear in mind that the modification should be treated as a temporary measure, and regular support should resume once the crisis passes.
Alternatively, if you are the custodial parent, and your ex has stopped paying support despite the existence of a valid court order, then see a New York child support attorney about enforcing it and collecting support arrears. Even during these challenging economic times, your children’s security is of paramount importance: on April 2, the Daily News reported that parents whose child support arrears had been reported to the Treasury Department would have past-due payments deducted from their $1,200 stimulus checks.
In summary, none of Governor Cuomo’s executive orders have absolved New York parents of their obligation to support their children financially. If you have a support order in place and have questions or concerns during this challenging time, then contact a New York family law attorney. Most firms are offering remote advice and representation, and addressing your situation with experienced legal counsel can give you the peace of mind you need.
Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, NY family law attorney. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he is offering free consultations over the phone or by video. If you have any questions about child support, then feel free to contact Mr. Lutzky’s office at 718-329-9500. Regular business hours are Monday – Friday from 9am to 4pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 4pm. For more information on coronavirus and the law, click here.