Recently the U.S. Congress passed legislation implementing a $2 trillion stimulus package to assist individuals and businesses in dealing with the economic consequences of the nationwide COVID-19 public health precautions. Individuals who earn less than $100,000 are eligible to receive $1,200 each, and couples are qualified to get $2,400, plus $500 per child.
Additionally, the bill dramatically expands unemployment benefits, authorizes a $500 billion loan to businesses and local governments. The industries that suffered a significant economic blow as a result of COVID-19 precautions—including the airline, hospital, and restaurant industries—will receive tens of billions in benefits as well.
The benefits of the stimulus package should provide some relief to those who have been furloughed or became unemployed due to the recent public health orders to stay at home. However, these benefits may not be enough cover one’s expenses and financial obligations, including support orders. In that case, a person can request to modify the terms of their support order.
To modify a child support or spousal maintenance order, the person seeking modification must demonstrate that a substantial change in circumstances occurred. In most instances, being furloughed or laid off may qualify as a substantial change in circumstances justifying an abatement (temporary suspension) or reduction in the amount a person owes in support. Additionally, unemployment benefits oftentimes include additional allotments that are earmarked for the payment of support.
If you have questions about your legal rights and options when it comes to changing the terms of your support obligation due to suffering a loss in income as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak, you should seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney from the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C.