Coronavirus has led to almost all states to put stay-at-home mandates in place, which means restaurants, bars, fitness centers, theaters, and many more businesses have had to close their doors. Employers are having to cut or furlough staff during this pandemic.
And the economic prognosis is bleak: for the week ending March 28, 2020, there were over six and a half million unemployment claims in the United States, and those are just the folks who were able to file a claim. Many state employment offices are reporting that they are experiencing a higher-than-usual volume of calls or attempts to file unemployment claims. Some experts are predicting that the unemployment rate will go as high as 32 percent, making it worse than during the Great Depression.
If you have found yourself suddenly unemployed, you might be wondering how you are going to pay for basic needs like your rent or mortgage, utilities, and food. And on top of that, what if you now can't afford your child support payments?
Calculating Child Support
When you were finalizing your divorce, a judge took into consideration both you and your ex-partner's net incomes to calculate how much child support would be needed to meet the best interests of your child, including any special medical or mental health needs. The agreed-upon child support was probably meant to last for a certain amount of time (for example, until your child turns 18, etc.), but is subject to be modified if certain factors in a parent's life change.
If you have shared custody with your ex-partner, you most likely filled out a Shared Parenting Worksheet. This document probably stated that you and your ex both contribute approximately the same amount financially to support your child. If your former partner has sole custody of your child, you may have been paying a higher amount of child custody to provide for your child.
Losing your job is certainly justification to modify your child support. With the help of an attorney, you can petition the court for a child support modification. You will need to show proof of your new employment status. The court will take into consideration that you are now unemployed and you can negotiate a new child support plan.
New Jersey Courts Closed
Even though most of the courts in New Jersey are closed now to in-person appearances, Family Courts are still operating either by telephone or videoconferencing. Some family matters are being suspended indefinitely, while other matters (especially emergency orders) are still being addressed.
Either way, it is important that you address the change in your employment status and communicate it to the court and your former spouse. The worse thing you could do would be to stop making your child support payments without any explanation. It could jeopardize your visitation and/or custody privileges.
New Jersey Family Attorney Joseph D. Lento
To learn more, contact a New Jersey family law attorney who understands what is going on and can assist you with navigating the system in these unprecedented times. Attorney Joseph D. Lento understands the hardships of losing a job and what the repercussions could mean as far as your child support. Mr. Lento appreciates the gravity of the situation we are in right now, and he can consult either by phone or video conference, just as the courts are doing. For more information about Mr. Lento's representation, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.