The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic devastation for families throughout Pennsylvania. Amid one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, many families have been forced to make gut-wrenching financial decisions. Single parents who rely on child support to cover the costs of housing, feeding and caring for their children may find it difficult or impossible to make ends meet when the child’s other parent cannot keep up with court-ordered payments.
Because child support is calculated based on the income of each parent, a support order that made sense before the pandemic may not be feasible today. The court-ordered payments you receive may fail to cover your child’s costs now that you make less income and your child is spending more time at home. Or if you are the payer, you may be unable to afford to make your court-ordered payments on time.
As difficult as your circumstances may be, you do not have the right to take matters into your own hands by changing how much you pay in child support. If you fail to request a modification of the order, it remains legally binding. Each parent’s financial obligation remains in effect, and the paying spouse will continue to be charged the same amount they owed prior to the change in circumstances.
If you receive or pay child support in Pennsylvania and have experienced a material or substantial change in income, you can file a petition to modify support with your county’s Domestic Relations office. The petition should be filed as soon as possible so that you can request a revised support order that reflects your new circumstances. Also, the petition may take considerable time to be processed. The pandemic closed many county courts for a period of time, resulting in modified hours and operating delays even after opening. Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Child Support program accepts online filings from attorneys and from parents without legal representation even when courts are closed.
An experienced Pennsylvania family law attorney can help you prepare and file your petition to modify with the appropriate county office and can represent you at any required court appearance. The lawyers at Feldstein Grinberg Lang & McKee, P.C. in Pittsburgh provide committed representation and reliable advice during child support challenges. To schedule a free initial consultation with our firm, call 412-471-0677 or contact us online.