New York Coronavirus and Child Support Lawyer
One of the most widespread consequences of coronavirus is that many New Yorkers have had to close their businesses, resulting in a loss of jobs and income. Some businesses will eventually reopen and rebound, but it is unclear when that will happen. Other businesses will not be able to recover and will not reopen. This means that many parents who have been ordered to pay child support no longer have a means to pay it. They have either stopped making payments or are making only partial payments. While these parents are concerned that they are not able to financially support their children, there is very little that they can do about it now. There are few jobs available due to the social distancing mandate and stay-at-home order. In addition, failing to pay child support will put parents at risk of facing the enforcement actions that go along with having an arrearage. If you are concerned about being unable to make your child support payments because you lost your job due to the coronavirus restrictions, contact an experienced New York child support lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates to discuss your legal options.Child support modification
Ideally, if you lose your job, you would be able to apply for a child support modification by filing a petition with the court. You would be eligible to receive a modification if there was a substantial change in circumstances, three years have passed since the order was issued, or there has been a 15% increase or decrease in your income or the income of the other parent since the original order was issued. If there was a decrease, it must not have been voluntary. Clearly, if you lost your job because your employer closed due to the coronavirus restrictions, you would have greater than a 15% decrease income and the decrease would not have been voluntary. However, because the courts are temporarily closed, you cannot apply for a child support modification. It is not yet clear when the courts will re-open, and when they do, there will be a backlog of cases.
Under normal circumstances, when a child support modification is granted it typically is effective as of the date that the petition for modification was filed. It does not apply to the arrears. As an experienced New York child support lawyer will explain, if you are unable to make payments while you are unemployed and while the courts are closed, you will accumulate an arrearage that you will be responsible for paying. When the courts re-open, make sure you immediately complete the paperwork and file your petition for a child support reduction. If granted, it will be effective as of the date you file that paperwork.Child support and visitation
Another byproduct of the coronavirus restrictions is that some parents who are obligated to pay child support do not have access to their children despite there being a visitation agreement in place. The general rule is that the obligation to pay child support is not dependent on visitation. However, the court has the power to suspend child support payments if the custodial parent unreasonably interferes with the noncustodial parent’s access to the child.
The court would hardly find it to be unreasonable if the custodial parent withheld access to your child because you or someone in your household has the virus or has been exposed to the virus, or the custodial parent or someone in his or her household has been exposed. On the other hand, if the custodial parent is withholding visitation out of a general fear or overabundance of caution, his or her actions may be deemed to be unreasonable. Still, even if the court did find the custodial parent’s actions to be unreasonable, it is up to the court’s discretion to determine the appropriate remedy. It may not be suspending child support payments. It may be a warning, or it may be giving the noncustodial parent extra visitation to make up for the missed time. Before you stop paying child support, discuss your case with an experienced child support attorney serving New York for guidance as to your options.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
During this difficult time, you may be understandably frustrated because you do not have the means to pay child support, and you may not have access to your child. Contact and experienced child support attorney in New York at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates to review your options. If it is necessary to petition the court, now is the time to prepare for when the courts reopen. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Westchester County.