The Corona Virus has caused a record high rate of unemployment. That is a complete understatement but let's hope that the layoffs and unemployment will be a temporary situation. Thinking optimistically most people that are fortunate to be working from home should be back to their places of employment in a matter of weeks and the unfortunate folks that are not getting paid shortly after that. In the Interim, this has caused at the very least a temporary reduction in a massive number of people's incomes.
What Can I Do About My Child Support Obligation While I Am Living With This Temporary Income Reduction?
The courts, under Governor Whitmer's Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order of March 23, 2020, are only open to hear cases that involve essential functions or as as necessary to sustain or carry-on daily life. The courts are only open on a limited basis, however, Oakland, Macomb and Wayne County Family Courts have enacted special procedures that allow attorneys to continue to file motions at the court. This is very important to anyone facing an issue with a temporary reduction in income or employment.
The reason it is important that attorneys can still file motions to reduce child support is that child support orders cannot be retroactively modified under the current law. This means that the child support can only be reduced back to the date the attorney files the motion, not the actual date the reduction in income or layoff occurred. So you will still owe the child support for every day that you have not filed the motion regardless of the fact that you are not earning any money. It is very important to immediately contact a family law attorney or file a motion for a temporary reduction of child support as soon as possible.
The question still exists as to whether any of the judge's will actually hear the motion to reduce the child support before the quarantine is lifted. In most cases, the payer of the support will be paying through an income withholding order with his or her employer, so if the payer is unemployed, the child support will in effect not be collected from the payer and the payer will be able to reduce or eliminate the arrears so long as the payer has filed the motion to reduce in a timely manner.
However, this does not fully handle the issue, there is still the obvious need to support the kids. In hard times, people have to communicate and work together as much as possible despite the extreme difficulty in doing so in some cases. This means that the payer should contact the payee and discuss how she or he will continue to support the child until this is over.
I suggest that if you are receiving a reduced income from an employer or through unemployment, etc., then you should try to determine the percent of your income that you have been paying in child support and pay that percent directly to the other parent until this is over. If you are not receiving any income, you will have to discuss a strategy to use any savings or work with all family members and friends to get through this. I suggest that in any case you should put what you are doing in writing. Hopefully, you will come to an agreement and you can both sign a written agreement that you will abide by when everyone is back at work.
Contact Our Michigan Parenting Time Lawyer for Help
My office is open to schedule conference calls and if requested, facetime meetings. I too am a divorced parent, so I'm getting accustomed to using Zoom with my kids for school and other forms of communicating in the day of social distancing. While the court is essentially in lock down, there are procedures for filing motions and the court will hear certain motions on a case by case basis. If you have questions regarding any child support, custody or parenting time in Michigan, contact our Michigan parenting time attorney. We are here to help you in these extremely difficult times.