COVID 19 and Child Support/Alimony- What Happens when a Paying Parent Loses His/Her Job?
COVID 19 and Child Support/Alimony- What Happens when Paying Parent Loses His/Her Job?
In normal times, a child support or alimony-paying parent who experiences a substantial loss in income will file a Supplemental Petition to Modify Support in his or her Family Court, often coupled with a Motion for Temporary Order seeking an immediate reduction in support. However, the coronavirus crisis has effectively closed Family Courthouses to routine motions in Florida, where Supreme Court Administrative Order AOSC20-17 provides that most non-emergency motions and hearings have been automatically continued to April 17, 2020 or later.
In addition, the new Administrative Order provides the following with respect to new filings:
“To maintain judicial workflow to the maximum extent feasible, chief judges are directed to take all possible steps to facilitate conducting proceedings with the use of technology.”
This lack of immediate access to the courts should not discourage child-support paying parents from taking some action following job loss. To the extent that new Complaints for Modification “will be docketed”, best practices suggest that a child-support paying parent who is laid off should file a Supplemental Petition for Modification as soon as possible. In Florida, child support arrears can only be reduced or eliminated in very rare and narrow circumstances. Although Florida judges have somewhat greater latitude to reduce alimony arrears, such relief is generally easier to achieve by individuals who file a Supplemental Petition for Modification immediately after losing their job.
To the extent that electronic e-filing is available for new modification actions, this is likely to be the preferred filing method, but again, different counties may approach filing issues differently.
If you believe we can help, call 321-586-3866 to make an appointment or have a consultation over the phone. When you meet with us, we can help you understand the particular circumstance surrounding your issue and create an individualized plan to help you come to the best resolution possible. You can also visit our website: https://www.centralfloridalegal.org/ for more information.