Child Support during COVID-19 – Frequently Asked Questions
Updated as of May 15, 2020
For the most up to date information regarding COVID-19 and the impact on the Courts, visit: Mass.Gov Court System
Q: I lost my job due to the coronavirus. Do I still have to pay my child support?
A: Yes. In most cases, failing to pay your child support is a violation of a court order and there can be serious consequences if you do not comply. Remember, the child support helps support your children.
Q: What should I do about my child support if I have lost my job or have had a pay reduction?
A: It depends. If you are receiving unemployment or severance payments, those are both considered income for child support purposes. Considering the additional weekly $600 federal supplement, your income may not change significantly enough to reduce your child support, especially if your child’s other parent has also lost income. You should download a copy of the Child Support Worksheet from the Probate and Family Court’s website. You can run a current child support calculation to determine if your new income will change the child support.
Q: Even with unemployment, I’m making much less money.
A: First, think about filing a modification (a court action that asks the court to change your child support). Child support can be changed retroactively, but only back to the date that a modification was filed. If you lose your job now but don’t file a modification for a few months, you will still owe child support at the previous rate until the modification is filed. Second, talk to your child’s other parent. If you can mutually agree to reduce your child support on a temporary basis, you can write down your agreement and submit it to the court to be entered as an order without the need for a hearing.
Q: I can’t make an agreement with my child’s other parent. What do I do?
A: First, file a complaint for modification. Then, pay what you can to support your child and document your reduced income. The existing child support order remains in place unless and until it is modified, and you may owe back child support. If your circumstances are dire, you can request an emergency hearing. During the pandemic, you will have to show special “emergency” circumstances to request such a hearing. You can get details by visiting mass.gov, or consult with a local attorney.
Q: With schools and daycare centers closed, I’ve had to take unpaid time off of work or reduce my hours to care for my child(ren). What should I do about child support?
A: Again, file a complaint for modification asking for a reduction. If you’ve lost income and your child’s other parent is still earning the same amount, you may be able to receive increased child support. You may want to discuss with your child(ren)’s other parent whether they are willing and able to take on some of the childcare responsibilities, or if one or both of you are essential workers, if there is suitable childcare available.
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