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Support and Maintenance Modifications During Crisis

Child Support Figuring out when to apply for a modification of child or spousal support (maintenance) can be difficult at the best of times. The law dictates that you must have had a significant change of circumstances in your life, among some other scenarios, for a modification to be necessary. However, when disaster strikes, it can be difficult to know what to do next.

In a crisis situation, like a natural disaster, or the global pandemic (COVID-19) that is/was raging at the time when this webpage was written, significant changes of circumstances can occur. Your income or the other side’s income could change by 15% of more, which is one of the stipulations that can allow for a modification of child support, unless the parties opt out of this. Another default reason, unless opted out of, that child support can be changed is if three or more years has elapsed since the last support order. You may also find that you and your child has needs that need to be addressed financially that you did not have before.

Speaking to a lawyer like Mr. Darren M Shapiro with experience in child support and divorce circumstances could be the best way to plan your next move.

Getting Help in a Crisis

In times of normalcy, Mr. Shapiro helps his clients to file requests for modifications to child support and spousal maintenance any time that they are dealing with one of the circumstances that might typically apply to a child support or maintenance modification case. If modifications are granted, then the law often dictates that the amount should be paid retroactively to the filing date in court of the petition that was filed. This means that if you filed for a change to your support on the 1st of April, and your court case was decided on the 15th of June, your amount due would be calculated from the 1st of April.

However, when crisis strikes, the courts may be forced to close down, preventing various issues from being heard and dealt with. It won’t always be immediately clear whether the Supreme Court or Family Court will accept filings for a child support or maintenance case. For instance, in the time of COVID-19, the New York Chief Administrative Judge ordered that no papers should be accepted unless they are listed as essential or deemed an emergency by the court.

Although Mr. Shapiro always treats his clients needs regarding maintenance, child support, and spousal support as essential, they may not be listed that way by the courts. However, courts in some cases may choose to define specific cases as essential. The Governor of New York has also suspended the statutes of limitations and deadlines for filing papers during the time of the COVID-19 virus. If papers aren’t accepted for filing at the time when you’re dealing with your issue in a crisis, then an earlier retroactive date than the date the papers are actually filed may be requested and perhaps granted by the court.

Regardless of whether papers are accepted at the time when you’re dealing with your case or not, Mr. Shapiro often advises his clients to prepare their applications as soon as possible. It’s also worth noting that in some cases, if your issue is heard by the courts, they might decide whether a temporary solution is called for or not.

Changes to Maintenance in a Crisis

As a divorce attorney, Mr. Shapiro often provides advice to clients about maintenance payments and how they are modified. Usually, maintenance orders agreed pursuant to divorce settlements will only be changed in cases where extreme hardship is evident. In a crisis, extreme financial hardship could be argued as a reason to modify maintenance. For instance, a person paying maintenance may need a break until their income returns to normal, or an ex-spouse who stopped receiving maintenance may need it again. The rules on modifications are a little more lenient in cases where the judge ordered maintenance after a hearing or trial. It is uncertain how any court will respond to issues in the Covid crisis situation, however, when this webpage was written.

Mr. Darren Shapiro would once again recommend getting the papers for any maintenance modification requests ready just in case. It may be possible to file these documents via Order to Show Cause. If extreme financial hardship issues are in place, then the courts may decide to treat the matter as essential. If documents are not accepted during a crisis, then having those papers prepared could be helpful when the courts return to normal.

It’s never totally clear how the courts will choose to deal with any crisis situation. Because of this, it’s important to ensure that you have the right guidance available to you in the form of an experienced family lawyer like Mr. Darren Shapiro. If you have any questions about your maintenance modification issues for child or spousal support at this time, you can find more information here or on our blog. You can also use this website’s contact form to arrange your free initial consultation (up to the first half hour is free).

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