The lives of many Floridians have been impacted on account of COVID-19, especially divorced parents. This article discusses the impact of an unemployed husband or wife, during the COVID-19 Pandemic, on child support after a Florida divorce.
Unemployment during this pandemic is as high as it was in the U.S. during the Great Depression. Stimulus checks only go so far. To further complicate issues for former spouses dependent on child support payments awarded during a divorce, is when that paying spouse lost his or her job because of the Pandemic.
In most cases, child support payments are deducted from the paying parent’s pay through an income deduction order. These orders direct employers to take out the child support payments ordered by the court from the paying parent’s check. When a former spouse no longer works for that employer, the employer lets the agency know. If the paying former spouse receives unemployment, a portion of the unemployment funds are withheld for payment of the child support.
Because Florida’ unemployment compensation system is so horrible, even during the Pandemic, child support oftentimes may be more than the unemployment check. When this happens, an arrearage accrues against the non-paying or under-paying spouse.
There is no doubt that being let go because of the Pandemic creates incredible stress for both former spouses. Besides the stress, when one parent files an action in court to enforce a child support order, attorney’s fees may accrue against the non-paying spouse. It is advisable to hire an attorney if you have been served with a motion for contempt to enforce a child support order. If a parent does not pay child support as ordered, and the parent ignores court notices, the court may not only order that parent to pay the other’s attorney’s fees, but also possibly suspend that parent’s driver’s license, pay a large fee and worse, order that parent to jail. When you hire a family lawyer, that lawyer may be able to reach an agreement with the other parent.
If you have been served with a motion for contempt and you do not hire an attorney, it is important that you are honest with your former spouse to work out an arrangement to avoid the involvement of a family law judge while looking for a new job.
If you are recently unemployed, maintain a diary of the jobs you have been applying for, including any correspondence, notes from interviews, etc. If you have to appear in Court on a motion for contempt, having this proof of your sincere efforts to secure new employment will help your case that you are doing everything to look for a new job.
For a free consultation, if you have been served with a motion for contempt, call our attorneys, Christian Van Riper or Tim Nies. Our family law attorneys have offices in West Palm Beach, Stuart, Delray Beach, Deerfield Beach, and Boca Raton, Florida.