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Child Support And Possession During Covid-19

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There is much uncertainty in the US and in the world right now. This is a good time to gather the information you’ll need to make decisions over the next weeks or months. Among these: if school is not in session, which parent has the children? what happens if my ex doesn’t turn over the children? what happens if my income changes? what happens if my ex doesn’t pay the support that is due?

If you have an order that sets out possession of and access to your children, it probably starts with mutual agreement. In most cases the section begins with a statement that says each parent has possession of and access to the children as mutually agreed between the parents. That means you can do whatever the two of you agree to do. All the days and times that follow are for when you do not agree. Get any agreement in writing – email or text are fine.

In this uncertain time of covid-19 and school closures, the general guidance is to keep the possession schedule roughly the same as if school was in session (assuming 1) no one is ill and 2) the exchange can be accomplished without being around a lot of people). Both parents will be concerned about the child so this would be a good time to add more frequent calls and video chats. Of course this is general and you will want to discuss specifics with your lawyer if you have questions or can not agree with your ex.

If your income changes so that the amount of support you would pay is 20% or $100 different, you may have grounds to modify the amount of child support you pay. You can not do this until it happens, but you should act quickly once it does. A modification of the amount of support due can not be retroactive to the date of the change. Don’t wait until you have a big arrearage built up and increasing daily with interest.

On the other hand, if you are supposed to receive support and are not receiving it, act quickly to enforce. Your ex will have to demonstrate their change in circumstances and their efforts to be fully employed. Your lawyer will guide you through this very technical process – it has to be very specific to be successful. In many cases there will be an order for your ex to reimburse your attorney fees.

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