The current pandemic situation has hit us all pretty hard, with a lot of people taking a blow to their income and job status. If you are a financially struggling parent due to COVID-19 and you have trouble paying your mandatory child support or alimony payments to your ex-spouse, what do you do?

First, don’t panic. There are options to get this resolved.

Reach Out to Your Ex-Spouse

If possible, the best option is to reach out to your ex-spouse first and see if you can come to a mutual agreement. Perhaps you can work out a pause, or a partial payment system. Maybe they will agree to allow you to pay a portion now, and the remainder that is owed by a certain date.

There are so many balls in the air right now, it is hard to know when everyone will get back to work, or what the status of your employment will be when restrictions are lifted. Perhaps you can make a short-term deal, and re-evaluate in a month or two.

It’s best to try this option first before you get lawyers or the court involved. Because of the extraordinary circumstances impacting virtually everyone, you may get a more sympathetic response than you expect.

Use Your Lawyer to Negotiate

If you can’t come to an agreement, or you do not have an amicable relationship with your ex-spouse, then you might need to escalate the situation by asking your lawyer to negotiate for you.

A slight prod from legal representation is often enough to get the ball rolling. The possibility of a court date or a legal battle might spur your ex-spouse to be in more of a negotiating mood and find some compromise. If successful, your lawyer can help draft a document summarizing the agreement to make it official.

Appeal to the Courts Directly

If the above approaches fail, you will need to seek a modification with the court of your existing alimony or child support obligation. This involves filing some paperwork and getting a court date. 

In April 2020, the California Judicial Council enacted “Emergency Rule 13,” which allows the date of your modification request to be effective as of the date you mailed your request to your ex, even if you had not yet filed it with the court. So, if you notified your ex of your modification request in March, but did not file your documents until May, you may still get credit for the months before you filed.

This is a rare concession from the court. It is unknown for how long it will stay in effect, except that it will remain in effect until 90 days after the Governor has lifted the state of emergency, or until the Judicial Council amends or repeals the rule. Thus, if you need to file a modification, now is the time. 

Need Help Negotiating or Filing Your Modification Request?

If you have concerns about child or spousal support because of the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, contact Park Family Law. Whether you need an experienced mediator to amicably and efficiently settle your case or an aggressive litigator to get you the best results in court, Park Family Law can assist you every step of the way.