Enforcing spousal support and child support agreements during COVID-19 has been challenging. With so many businesses closed, people who are required to pay spousal support or child support may find themselves out of work and unable to pay.
First, remember that spousal and child support is pursuant to a court order. An order remains in effect even if the courts are closed. When subject to a court order, you are obligated to abide by that order or face punishment through fines or imprisonment.
For this to happen, the court must find “willful contempt” of the court order before sanctions are issued. Job loss due to COVID-19 may be a viable defense to any enforcement action.[Related: Mediation in Virginia]
Do not wait to reach out to an attorney for a reduction in your child support. Getting your matter before the Court for a reduction as soon as possible is important. Child support does not get forgiven once it is accrued.
If you are unable to continue paying support that is court ordered, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Reach out to the other party. We are all in this pandemic together. The other party should understand, and you may be able to work out a temporary solution that provides stability to the other party, or the ability to work out other accommodations.
If you can come to an agreement, get the agreement in writing, and make sure both parties sign it. Then, it’s critical to get it approved by the Court.
Motion to Amend
If the other party is unable to reach an agreement, the payor must file for a Motion to Amend as soon as possible. This will not stay or reduce the current court ordered amount, the motion will allow the court to change future support if the court find a material change of circumstance, like the current crisis.
This motion will give the payor some protection until matters can be adjudicated and resolved in court.
Note that the Court may expect you to liquidate personal or real property to stay current with your support orders, if your assets are significant.
Family Lawyer in Alexandria Northern Virginia
In the meantime, attempt to follow the appropriate court orders. You should also consult an attorney to evaluate your options and ensure that you are taking the proper steps. Contact King, Campbell, Poretz, & Mitchell to learn more about enforcing spousal support and child support during COVID-19.