When you divorced, you were provided with orders that address your child support obligations, and you have tried to carefully adhere to those orders. As time goes by, however, things change, and if the change you’ve experienced is significant enough, a child support modification may be in order. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that we’re experiencing might certainly qualify as a significant change in circumstances for many. If you need to obtain a child support modification, you need the professional legal counsel of an experienced Chicago family law attorney on your side.
Furloughs and Job Loss
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in unprecedented ways, and most people did not expect this financial strain. Many, many people have lost their jobs completely – or have been furloughed with no return date in sight. Further, finding a replacement job with current health orders in effect can be challenging. Even with the slow return to a more robust workforce, the financial outlook for many is concerning. If you’ve seen a drastic cut in income as a result of the pandemic, you may be eligible for a child support modification.
Modification of Court-Ordered Child Support
In the State of Illinois, there are generally two distinct ways to obtain a modification of court-ordered child support, including:
- You must show that you have experienced a substantial change in circumstances
- You must show that, according to the state’s child support guidelines, your child support payments – given your present circumstances – would be at least 20 percent different than what you are currently paying (the change must be at least $10 per month). This option is only available after at least 36 months have elapsed since your child support order was issued or was last modified.
If your financial situation has been seriously affected by the COVID-19 crisis, you likely have good cause for demonstrating that you’ve undergone a substantial change in circumstances.
A Substantial Change in Circumstances
There is no specific definition of what constitutes a substantial change in circumstances, and courts consider the matter case by case. When your child support modification request is heard, the judge will take the following into consideration:
- Why did your income change? For example, did you quit your job voluntarily, were you laid off involuntarily, were you terminated, or, as is often the case now that COVID-19 is with us, were you furloughed?
- How much has your income changed?
The fact is that if you have voluntarily reduced your hours or have taken a pay hit due to lax employment practices, the judge might be less interested in modifying your child support payments than if your income has changed significantly through no fault of your own.
It’s Time to Consult With an Experienced Chicago Family Law Attorney
If you need to modify your child support payments as a result of the pandemic – or for any other reason – you need an experienced family law attorney by your side. The legal team at Arami Law in Chicago has extensive experience helping clients like you obtain the child support modifications they need, and we’re also committed to helping you. For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.