Both child and spousal support awards are primarily based on the income of the parties. Prior to establishment of an Order, both parties are directed to show proof of income and relevant expenses. With respect to income, this can include recent pay stubs, last filed tax return and W-2, disability payment statements, retirement payment statements, unemployment, etc. Relevant expenses may include health insurance premiums, mortgage payments, child care costs, and private school tuition. It is the responsibility of the parties to petition the court to review a previously entered support Order if circumstances (i.e. income of parties or expenses) change.
During this pandemic, many individuals have experienced changes in income and expenses. With many industries affected by various policies intended to slow the spread of coronavirus, hours have been cut or jobs lost. Where schools have closed, there could be new child care costs if both parents are still working outside of the home. Alternatively, child care costs may have been eliminated if a parent is now working from home and able to watch their child as well. Regardless of the nature of the change, the first step to take is to file a request for modification if you have a court-ordered support award. Second, the filing party should gather all the documentation reflecting the changes. It is also important to attempt to determine how long the new circumstances will last. For example, if you have a date that you are returning to work or that your children are returning to child care. The courts understand this is an unprecedented situation for all of us and are doing their best to balance the need for support with the current circumstances of the parties.