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Job Loss & Child Support During Coronavirus

It can be incredibly deflating to lose your job. No matter if you have a job or if you are fortunate enough to have a career human beings derive a great deal of our self-worth and identity through our places of employment. It may not be much, but it may be something is likely a thought that you've had at some point in your life. I know that I've had this thought in prior jobs while I was in college and law school. Your daily job is something that you may roll your eyes at on occasion when the alarm goes off in the morning but losing your job and having to find work can be an extremely difficult and emotionally taxing endeavor. With that said, finding a job is essential for you to be able to support yourself in your family.

It is common in family law cases for one parent to pay child support to another parent with the support of their children. Typically speaking, the parent who has primary custody of the children will receive child support and the parent who has Visitation rights to the children will pay child support. Thinking behind this structure is that the parent who sees the children less will also have less skin in the game so to speak as far as paying for the daily essentials of life for that child. Child support is intended to even the playing field as far as making sure all parties involved have reasonable amounts of responsibility relative to how often they see their children. 

Child support is a tricky subject in a divorce or child custody case just because everyone gets a little worked up when money is involved. In reality, child support is typically paid through a state disbursement unit provided by the office of the attorney general. Your paycheck will have child support taken out of it at the beginning of each month and that will go directly to the bank account of your child's other parent. He or she will then be responsible for paying for whatever it is your child has coming too or just making sure your child has a place to live, food to eat and clothes to wear. This setup removes a lot of the uncertainty from relying on you and your child other parent to make sure that payment is made and received each month. 

On top of that, child support is typically calculated by using a pretty straightforward method contained in the Texas family code. Essentially, your net monthly income will be calculated and then multiplied by a percentage ranging somewhere between 20 and 50%. That percentage will determine how much of your income you end up paying per month in child support. A specific amount will be included in your final decree of divorce custody orders and that will be what you have to pay each month as far as child support is concerned. Where the trouble comes in is in regard to the emotions around child support and how your family's specific circumstances may play into its calculation. 

There is something about having to pay money to your ex-spouse that most people, understandably are not big fans of. A divorce acts not only as a legal dissolution of a marriage but it also acts as a symbolic and of that relationship as well as period of your life. It can be frustrating for many people to understand that they still have a major connection to their ex-spouse through having to pay child support to him or her. Paying to support your children is something very few people have problems with. It is the paying to support your children and having that money go through an ex-spouse that many people have issues with. 

One of the things that I have heard from clients in the past is that people would feel better if there was some way to track how that money was spent. In their mind, something would have to be done where once the money goes into the bank account of their ex-spouse there will be some mechanism in place to ensure that the money is actually spent on their children and not spent on something frivolous for the ex-spouse. While this is an interesting thought it is 1 doubtless that many people have had I don't think that it is practical. 

Not only is it not practical but consider how you would feel if the shoe were on the other foot and you were the spouse who was receiving child support. Would you be in favor of the government being able to track how you spend your money and how you allocate resources in relation to your children? I doubt it a great deal. In addition, imagine how much more expensive getting a divorce maybe through a court if the courts also had to pay for someone to track how you spend your child support. I don't think that this is worth it it is something that I would not I want to see implemented, personally. 

As it stands, child support can be a very straightforward aspect of your family law case and is not something that requires too much negotiation for most people. However, there are circumstances involved in some family law cases where Extraordinary circumstances exist that demand deviation from the standard guidelines for child support. Notably, if you earn a great deal of income on a monthly basis then it could be argued that fairness requires that a greater amount of child support be paid above and beyond the normal guidelines. 

The best place to achieve some sort of parity when it comes to child support payments would be in mediation. Mediation allows you and your spouse to negotiate an amount of child support that is proper for your circumstances. Not only could above guidelines child support be fair if you earn a great deal of money but it may also be necessary if your child has a special need like a medical condition that requires constant intervention or even additional care such as from a nurse. In cases like those, it would be reasonable to expect that a person who could afford to pay more in child support would do so. 

The bottom line is that when it comes to paying child support it is up to you and your family how to handle this subject. Your individual circumstances may require some degree of deviation from the norm as far as child support guidelines are concerned. We have already talked about how a higher than average income, special medical needs for your child or other circumstances can lead to a situation where greater amounts of child support need to be paid. This is something that can be dealt with fairly by dividing up your community estate in a way that allows for the payor of child support to receive a disproportionate share in order to make up for greater amounts of child support that will be paid on a monthly basis. 

As with anything when it comes to negotiations, you should consult with your experienced family law attorney before proceeding into matters like these. You do not want to be caught in a situation where you are unable to problem solve your way through issues related to your personal finances and your ability to provide for your family in the future. While most any attorney will tell you that he or she can handle your divorce or child custody case it is best left to those who have a great deal of experience in doing so. An experienced family law attorney is your best advocate in situations like these and can make a tremendous difference for you in your quality of life and that of your family’s.

What happens if you lose your job during the coronavirus pandemic?

this is the most important question that we have to answer in today's blog post. In reality, never a good thing to lose your job at any point in time. It is especially not a good thing to lose a job during a pandemic when jobs are scarcer, and more people are looking for the period we have seen that many areas of the economy have been shut down completely due to the pandemic. I am thinking about hospitality, restaurants, entertainment and other venues where person to person interaction is necessary. Hopefully some of these fields will return to normal very soon but it is likely that some will struggle for some time to come. 

Southeast Texas in particular felt a significant hit from the pandemic and the government LED shutdowns early on this past spring. Not only did we suffer along with the rest of the nation in terms of our job losses but the oil and gas industry were hit especially hard as fewer and fewer people needed energy to travel, drive and perform the ordinary functions that Americans had done to that point. All of the oil that was being pumped was stored in various locations and it became worrisome when the oil and gas producers were running out of space to store their oil. As a result, production slowed way down, and our economy felt the hit in particular. 

That takes us to the portion of today's blog post where we're going to discuss what happened if you lost your job at the beginning of this pandemic and have either been unable to find a new job or are working in a field where you are being paid less money. To begin, just because you lose your job does not mean you get an automatic stay for your child support responsibilities. the fact of the matter is that your obligation to pay child support does not depend upon whether or not you have a job. You will be expected to pay child supports no matter what your employment status is and you can expect to be held responsible if you fail to pay. 

What this means is that if you do lose your job or have lost your job due to the pandemic or any other reason than you should take steps to protect yourself and your children. For one, you should be upfront with your co-parent about your loss of income. Do not wait until the last minute to talk to him or her and do not wait until he or she misses a child support payment at the beginning of a month to talk about your job loss. Rather, once you lose your job you should make him or her aware of your circumstances so that you all can develop a plan together. 

Yes, it is entirely possible that you may find that he or she is unwilling to work with you and to help you mitigate your losses during these months where you're trying to find work. However, most reasonable parents will understand where you are coming from especially given the circumstances of the pandemic. Given this you should make plans to pay as much as you can on a monthly basis until you are able to get back on your feet financially. Remember, you are not only trying to keep yourself out of the courthouse, but you were also trying to make sure that your children have the resources they need to succeed and thrive. 

Working out an informal agreement on how to deal with circumstances like these with your co-parent is the place to begin. A little honesty and the ability to work with him or her can go a long way towards avoiding having an enforcement lawsuit filed against you when you are unable to pay child support as ordered. You should begin to keep track of how much child support you have paid and how much you owe by going online to the attorney general's website and checking your individual ledger. This way you will not be surprised to learn how much it is you actually owe when you are able to get back on your feet and landed job that pays you enough to be able to afford child support. 

On the other hand, if you have not lost your job but are concerned about the reality of job loss during this pandemic then you should begin to set some money aside for a rainy day. Having some money in the bank could be what separates you from a tricky legal situation and a mere inconvenience as you begin to look for alternative sources of income. I realize that not everyone will be able to save as much money as they would like right now but any little big can help. 

What to do if an enforcement lawsuit is filed against you?

If worse comes to worse and a child support enforcement lawsuit is filed against you then you should not become despondent and lose hope in the situation. An enforcement lawsuit in the world of family law seeks to enforce the terms of a child support order by notifying the court of your failure to pay child support, the dates on which support was missed in the total amount owed by you. The enforcement lawsuit will then ask for some sort of remedy as far as having a payment plan worked out where you will have to pay back the Child Support or even requesting jail time in extreme situations. 

In general, it is unlikely that jail will be assessed against you if you have lost your job due to the coronavirus pandemic in are not able to pay your child support. Jail time is usually only assessed in extreme circumstances where multiple instances of miss payments have occurred. With that said, if a judge were to rule against you in an enforcement lawsuit you may be in line to have to pay court costs, attorneys fees and child support on top of all that. As such, it is in your best interest to work with your co-parent to avoid the necessity of going to court to hold you responsible for your failure to pay child support.

It is understandable to have experienced job loss during this pandemic. Millions of Americans will join you in voicing their frustration with how things have gone for many of us in 2020. However, the loss of a job does not mean you have to get into a bad situation when it comes to child support payments. There are options available to you as far as making sure that you are able 2 pay what you can now and get back on track once your income returns to normal. 

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of family law as well as about the services provided to our clients by our attorneys and staff. 


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