What do you do if the novel coronavirus has shut down your employer, caused a furlough or your termination, or has otherwise suddenly left you without income to pay child support and/or alimony? What do you do if you are the recipient of alimony or child support and now have to figure out how to pay bills and make ends meet without support from your child’s parent or ex-spouse?
A pandemic like this has far reaching economic consequences in these family law issues and can significantly strain both the payor and the payee.
In general, New Jersey law states that a temporary change in economic circumstances does not qualify for a change in the alimony or child support obligation of the payor, even temporarily.
However, given the worldwide attention and knowledge as to the widespread and unprecedented economic effect this pandemic has already shown, and the sudden closing of many offices and businesses through the state, a court of equity, such as the Family Court, may very well provide relief to the payor.
This is particularly likely if both the payor and the recipient of support are equally struggling. A look at the totality of each parties’ financial circumstances would be required.
Compromise may be appropriate, though you must take care to properly articulate the entire agreement to avoid interpretation or enforcement issues later, and legal counsel is strongly advised.
However, in cases where parents cannot reconcile their differences and find compromise, those parents may need to seek court intervention or some form of virtual alternate dispute resolution, and should also seek legal counsel immediately.