Financial Impacts of COVID-19 in New Jersey Family Law
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted people’s lives in various ways, such as through the financial constraints it has imposed on many families. Many people have lost their jobs during the outbreak and have depleted their savings and cash flow.
These ramifications could make it difficult to meet the costs of divorce proceedings or complete other obligations such as alimony or child support payments. If you believe that the financial impact of COVID-19 is preventing you from addressing any family law matter, reach out to an experienced New Jersey attorney.
Impact on Divorce
Under COVID-19 protocols, a person will still have the same access to the court and the same rights if they decide to pursue a family law matter such as divorce. However, a person’s poor financial situation may discourage them from entering divorce proceedings because they want to avoid the potential expenses.
Besides the actual cost of obtaining a divorce, a person considering separating from their spouse may worry about how their family will function financially in two households when there was previously only one. However, if someone is in an untenable situation and wants to dissolve their marriage as soon as possible, they should enlist a New Jersey attorney who could offer valuable advice. Even if the coronavirus has created an uncertain financial situation for a family, a legal professional could help them navigate a legal process to achieve an outcome that serves the family’s best interests.
Alimony Payments under COVID-19 Protocols
Divorced individuals who have lost their jobs during the pandemic may be struggling to make their scheduled alimony payments. Though these times are unprecedented, alimony is treated the same way that it would be in any other circumstance where a payor has lost their job under the alimony statute.
To receive some relief, the alimony payor would first have to prove that their lack of work was not voluntary and that they are actively looking for employment. If they can prove that they have no current cash flow or income, then upon court approval, they may be able to suspend or reduce their alimony payments until they get a new job. Courts typically want to see evidence of as many job applications as possible.
However, the alimony payor may also be ordered to use their savings to cover the usual spousal support payments, if appropriate. A lack of employment does not mean that a person no longer has to pay alimony. It just means that they may have to adjust the payments to the current circumstances and address the plan again once anything changes. This is because the court needs to be satisfied that the loss of the current level of income is permanent and substantial. In the pandemic, however, courts have on some occasions been more lenient as to temporary changes in circumstances.
Child Support during Financial Strain
If a divorced parent who is obligated to pay child support loses their job, there would typically be an imputation of income. In this situation, the court would assign an income to the paying parent so that they would be able to meet their scheduled payments.
The attorneys and the court can carefully assess the paying parent’s economic needs and the needs of their child to determine the amount of the imputed income. The court may modify a child support agreement in an unconventional way during this time. Doing so can allow each party to adapt to these unprecedented times. A qualified New Jersey family law lawyer could help a family address their concerns regarding child support and financial trouble by further explaining these measures.
Who Can Obtain Financial Relief from the Court?
Anyone is permitted to file an application for financial relief in the context of their child support responsibilities. However, a person undergoing this process needs to be sure that they are knowledgeable of the surrounding laws and do whatever is necessary to obtain official court approval, as stopping support payments without explicit approval could result in severe legal consequences and even temporary incarceration. An experienced New Jersey family law attorney can represent a financially struggling parent in court to maximize their chances of achieving relief.
What Should Be Included in a Relief Application?
A person’s application for a modification to a support obligation needs to include key facts regarding their employment status and financial situation in order to receive approval. They will likely have to prove that they have engaged in continued efforts to replace their employment but have not been successful, and also show that their financial strain is a clear and substantial change in circumstances. The relief, if offered, will be contingent upon the individual’s continued efforts to obtain employment and replace their compensation.
A New Jersey Family Attorney Could Work to Alleviate the Financial Impact of COVID-19
This pandemic has created newfound financial hardships for many families and pay cuts, furloughs, or job losses may make it even more difficult for people to pursue necessary legal proceedings. If you are struggling financially from the effects of COVID-19 but need to address an important family law issue, contact a compassionate New Jersey family law attorney for help. Call the firm today to set up a consultation and learn more about your options.