Child support can be a naturally tricky topic to navigate during a divorce. The court hopes to strike a balance so that the children’s material needs are being met regardless of the custody arrangement. This means going through the process of determining how the parents’ incomes can be fairly and reasonably allocated to the children and their needs. Now, with the outbreak of COVID-19, our economy has become less stable, and parents may face economic stress that could impact their children’s child support arrangements.
If you believe your finances will be negatively affected by the pandemic for months or even years to come, your goal should be to renegotiate a fair child support arrangement that will still allow your children’s needs to be met. You may be able to decrease, suspend, or completely terminate your child support agreement. If you’re the payee, you may also consider negotiating for a higher payment due to a disparity in the other parent’s and your incomes.
Requesting a modification of your child support agreement can seem like an overwhelming process, but the assistance of a qualified family law firm in Edina will make it bearable. Here’s how you should approach modifying your child support order.
Modifying a Child Support Order
A child support modification in Edina, Minnesota can be made if there is a change of circumstances, including:
- fluctuation in either parent’s income (for example, the loss of a job)
- a price increase for the child’s health expenses, childcare, or cost of living
- a change in the parenting time each party is actively involved in
- the birth of another child from a new relationship
With the help of a family law attorney in Edina, you may be able to renegotiate child support with your ex without going to court. This could be a low-hassle option now that some court hearings are being postponed due to the pandemic; your attorney can advise you on whether this is the best way to approach your modification request.
If you are unable to negotiate with your ex out of court, it is important to promptly file for changes to child support; the court generally cannot change payments retroactively. To obtain a modification, you’ll need to petition the court that made the initial child support determination. You should do this with the assistance of an Edina child support lawyer to ensure you correctly file the necessary documents. Upon receiving your petition, the courts will seek a change in circumstances that it deems adequate grounds for modifying the child support order. It will then reconsider both parents’ incomes and rule on a new child support amount.
Enforcement of Child Support
Unfortunately, nearly 60% of child support ordered payments are not fully made. Every state has administrative agencies to enforce child support orders, and Minnesota is no exception. The Novel Coronavirus and its implications are not a valid reason to stop paying child support if your ex has not petitioned the court for a modification. Therefore, you can still enlist the help of the courts to enforce your child support order.
The courts use several strategies to pressure non-custodial parents into paying their past-due child support. The delinquent parent’s employer may be legally required to withhold child support payments from a paycheck, for example. Their federal or state income tax return can also be withheld and applied to their past-due child support amount.
There is one important thing to note concerning child support and child custody: a custodial parent cannot prevent the parent who owes child support from visiting his or her child as a “punishment” or a method of child support enforcement. Your custody arrangement is considered completely separate from child support issues. For more on this, or if your co-parent is refusing to let you see your child because you’re behind on child support, contact an Edina child custody lawyer.
Child support is not meant to be a complete solution to the custodial parent’s financial issues. It is also not meant to be the only financial source for raising a child. Instead, it is assumed that parental responsibilities to support their children apply regardless of the custodial arrangement. You should always consider child support a dynamic calculation: it can be changed based on the circumstances I previously outlined, especially when the needs of the child have shifted. With the unprecedented social and economic circumstances caused by the COVID-19 virus, these guidelines matter more than ever.