...

Financial fallout of COVID-19 for persons involved in Texas family law cases

When we consider the lengths to which we have curtailed our normal behavior in hopes of limiting the transmission of the coronavirus, the main motivation for doing so is to protect our collective health. This is the reason why businesses were shut down, professional sports leagues suspended operations and our very way of life changed dramatically at the drop of a hat. All to keep us, especially our most vulnerable populations, safe. We will be able to look back in a few years and make a better determination about whether or not those efforts were effective or not. 

It is not going to take a few years for us to come to the realization that the shutdown, quarantines and stay at home orders were especially difficult on our national economy. Even with the ability of people to work from home during the pandemic, we have seen job losses that have been astronomical. Retail and service industry jobs have been especially hard hit. From what we have seen in relation to the virus, the cause of the job loss may or may not be what has led to a decrease in recent days of overall cases of the virus. Nobody knows what path the virus and its infection rate is going to take. We do know that tens of millions of people are out of work today that were not out of work in March. 

For as many people who are reading this blog post, there are probably just as many financial scenarios that have played themselves out in the past few months. Some of you are set up well financially. Your income is stable, you have money in the bank, you have no to very little debt. Financially speaking you are well positioned to take a hit if and when this virus turns worse or even comes back for a second round this fall or winter. 

For others of you, your financial state may not be as well established in a positive sense. You may have lost your job due to the virus and are doing whatever you can to scrape by right now until the economy fully opens up and additional opportunities in the job market present themselves. If you had any money in the bank you likely used that already to pay for the necessities of life. Rent and mortgage payments will be due in just a few days. Questions abound as to whether or not you will have the wherewithal to make those payments on time and in full. 

Now, add onto these situations that I am describing an ongoing family law case. If you filed for divorce in early March (just before COVID-19 became the issue that dominates our lives) your case may have hit a roadblock once the courts started. What can you do from a financial perspective in order to maintain your case and your sanity? Or, if your divorce is done and over with you may be questioning what you can do if you have problems with paying your child support each month moving forward.

In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, I would like to touch on subjects related to finances and the coronavirus. We all know that there are families around us who are hurting right now. If you are one of those families then there is no doubt that you have options available to you as far as adjusting things during the middle of this pandemic. 

Finances, family law and COVID-19

One of the first things that I would like to point out to anyone who is reading this blog is that the purpose of my writing it is not to shame anyone. We all find ourselves in different positions financially. For instance, the oil and gas industry has been hit especially hard by the shutdowns in the economy. Air travel, car travel and a lack of space to store recently pumped oil has come to a head and caused a major disruption in that area of the economy. 

It just so happens that the state of Texas, and our area especially, is especially dependent on oil and gas jobs. While oil and gas is definitely a cyclical field where good times are followed by bad times and back around the roller coaster, the nature of this downturn coming during the pandemic has only intensified the losses. Oil and gas jobs are at a premium now with many furloughed and others seeing their jobs terminated. 

Let’s examine a few areas of family law related to finances to see what steps you can make to shore up that area of your life. Suppose that you are a father of three who is responsible for paying monthly child support on behalf of your children. Those payments are taken out of your check automatically at the beginning of the month without you having to do anything about it. If your job were to be furloughed then you would need to figure out how to attack that problem sooner rather than later. Here some tips on how to handle this financial hardship associated with a Texas family law case.

First, you cannot avoid the problem and hope it just goes away. While the economic crisis may go away, and your need to find employment may go away, if you miss three or four months of child support payments that problem will not go away. Owing thousands of dollars in child support is no joke. Your ex-spouse can file an enforcement lawsuit where you will have to answer for violating your divorce decree and its requirements of you to pay monthly support. 

To avoid the worst of this situation, I would recommend you do a few things as soon as you find out that you have lost your job. First, reach out to your ex-spouse and attempt to speak to her regarding  the upcoming problems that you will be having in regard to not being able to pay child support. Again, this is a problem that is not going to go away on its own. If you are up front with your ex-spouse about your situation then she can work with you on delaying or even forgiving payments outright. 

You can work on a payment plan where you pay the owed child support over a certain period of time. You could even work out a temporary reduced level of support that would cover the entirety of the support figure that is owed. However, you could not solve this problem if you were to simply ignore it and never work with your ex