COVID-19 & Its Impact on Child Support

It’s no secret that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to the loss of millions of jobs across the United States and Orange County, California, is no exception. As of this writing, we’re deep in the middle of the pandemic. When you drive to the grocery store, the streets are virtually empty. People aren’t on the streets. Children aren’t playing at the parks. Parking lots at strip malls, gyms, and shopping malls are empty. Disney Land is a ghost town. It’s like the whole of Orange County shut down because that’s practically what’s happened.

Unless someone is an “essential worker” or they’re headed to get gas, to shop for groceries, or pick up a prescription, they’re supposed to stay INSIDE their home per the order from the state public health officer that requires Californians to stay home except for essential needs.

As noncustodial parents obey this strict order, it’s affecting their ability to work and pay their child support payments. It’s also impacting custodial parents who rely on child support to pay their basic living expenses, such as food, shelter, and clothing for their children.

Effects of Not Paying Child Support

If you’re one of the unfortunate employees who lost their jobs because of COVID-19 or if you’re a small business owner who was driven out of business due to the pandemic, and you can’t afford your child support payments, it’s important you take action. The worst thing to do is nothing. If you skip payments and don’t contact the court for a downward modification, the local child support agency can take action against you to collect. Such actions may include:

  • Suspending your driver’s license
  • Suspending your business, professional, and recreational licenses (e.g. hunting and fishing)
  • Seizing funds from your bank accounts, including joint bank accounts
  • Taking your tax refund
  • Taking your lottery winnings
  • Placing a lien on your home or real estate that you own
  • Reporting the delinquency on your credit report
  • Garnishing your unemployment benefits (where applicable)
  • Filing contempt of court charges

If your financial circumstances have changed significantly due to the coronavirus pandemic, you’ll want to petition the court for a downward modification. Even if you’ve lost your job or your business has been destroyed by the pandemic, your child support payments will remain the same until the court says they are changed.

According to the California Courts: “If you are the parent paying child support, you will still owe the full amount of support in your current court order until you get the order changed - even if your situation has changed. So, for example, if you lose your job today but you do not change your child support order until 3 months from now, you will still owe child support from today until 3 months from now, even though you were not working.”

For help with adjusting your child support payments, contact Burch Shepard Family Law Group to request a consultation.