Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many found it challenging to stay current on their support payments. The pandemic has spared few people in its path, affecting millions of people worldwide. While some live paycheck to paycheck, relying on government assistance, businesses are struggling to keep their door open, and many employees across the Commonwealth have been laid off, the courts have issued no exemptions absolving individuals of their child support and/or spousal support obligation. Undoubtedly, this is because your child and/or spouse still require food, housing, clothing, etc., despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
I am caring for my child now that I am laid off, do I still need to make child support payments?
The answer is yes. There is a common misconception that the payor spending more time with their child/children is reason enough to ignore their current child support order. You must continue making your child support payments as ordered.
An informal change of custody without filing a modification of support does not put the Court on notice of the change in your circumstances. Therefore, you must continue making your monthly payments as ordered to prevent fines, suspension of your license, a warrant being issued and/or other sanctions being imposed upon you.
What happens if I receive PUA in addition to my regular Unemployment benefits?
In Pennsylvania, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (“PUA”) provides 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals. The PUA Claims statistics report that there have been 218, 658 total PUA claims in 2021. The PUA, however, has been quite a challenge for the Pennsylvania Child Support Program.
Currently, the Pennsylvania Child Support Program, which issues wage attachments to income sources, is unable to distinguish between regular unemployment benefits and the PUA. Consequently, approximately 20,000 individuals state-wide currently have their monthly child and/or spousal support obligations withdrawn from their regular unemployment compensation benefits and the PUA.
The withdrawal of funds from both unemployment compensation benefits and the PUA has been incredibly problematic for those who depend on these weekly disbursements for their survival. However, because the system is presently unable to flag individuals whose support obligations are being paid out from their unemployment compensation and the PUA, you must notify the Domestic Relations Office immediately.
If you or someone you know is experiencing this issue, contact our office.
When should I file for a modification of child or spousal support?
If your employment has been affected by the pandemic and you are no longer able to meet your support obligation, it is imperative that you file a modification immediately. In Pennsylvania, support is only retroactive until the date of filing. Refer to our previous blog called “How does the coronavirus affect my child support in Pennsylvania” to learn more.
Talk to a child support lawyer.
This post is intended to provide very general information regarding the impact of COVID-19 on child support. If you have further questions about child support in Pennsylvania, or if you are interested in filing for child support, or if you have a child support order you would like to modify, contact our office at Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C. to scheduled your initial consultation by phone Complete the form below or call our office at 1-844-VARI-LAW (827-4529) to schedule your consultation today.