Can my ex-wife seek more child support if she lost her job due to COVID-19?
I do not practice law in your state. Therefore, I cannot inform you as to the specific laws of your state, but I can provide you with general tips for this sort of issue.
In most jurisdiction, child support is considered modifiable if there is a change in circumstances, which generally are changes in income and/or changes in the custody schedule.
That being said, a modification generally is not automatic upon a change of circumstance. The person requesting a change is under an affirmative duty to notify the court if there is a change in income. If your ex-wife does not notify the court and formally request a modification of the child support order, the current support amount will continue to be charged at the current level even if her income has changed.
In some instances, although a reduction in income can be considered a change in circumstance, the court typically will not modify the amount or duration of support if it appears that the change is circumstance is considered temporary.
For example, there is case law that states that a 20-month reduction in income only was temporary therefore a reduction in alimony was not warranted. As an example, if your ex-wife is furloughed for a short period (even if it is a couple of months) and she is receiving unemployment compensation, the court may determine that since the change to her income relatively is short, then a modification is not warranted.
Also, there are some other considerations the court will have to examine. For example, if you are paying child care expenses as part of your support order, then the child care expenses presumably are not needed at this time if your ex-wife is not working.
As such, it may not make sense for your ex-wife to seek additional support if there are other items that will be removed from the support order, like child care expenses. Further, your ex-wife will have an obligation to show what efforts she has made to mitigate the loss of income. If there are some places of business open and hiring where your ex-wife resides, she may be under an affirmative duty to show that she has, at the very least, applied for new employment.
This duty will continue after the shutdowns are lifted, if your ex-wife’s employment does not resume. Again, this is all assuming she even files for a modification, if she does not file with the Court, there should be no change to the current support order.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.