Tulsa Attorney BlogCan You Stop Paying Child Support After COVID-19 Layoff?

Child Support is Based on how Much Money you Make

Video Transcribed:  Can you stop paying child support if you’ve been laid off in Oklahoma due to the Coronavirus? I’m Tulsa attorney James Wirth, and we’re about to talk about child support and the pandemic and how they affect each other.

Okay, so first off, you got a court order for child support. It’s based on you making a certain amount of money and then you lose your job due to a layoff or due to other circumstances from the Coronavirus, Covid-19 or something else.

So you’re in a circumstance where you’ve got the order to pay but it’s difficult for you to pay.

So a couple of things, although there’ve been a lot of restrictions on the things that can be done in court and the Oklahoma Supreme Court has said that certain deadlines and orders are delayed, that doesn’t apply to your child support payments, so the child support payments still is what it is.

And you’re expected to pay that because although you may be going through difficult times, it’s assumed that the child’s custodian and other people may be going through difficult times as well, but it doesn’t end there.

If you’ve had a change in your income due to a layoff or due to losing your job or a reduction in hours, any of those circumstances that does affect the amount you should be paying for child support.

But it doesn’t automatically change. It’s incumbent on you to file with the court for a modification due to a change in your income. And when that is adjudicated, when you get an order on that, if your income has gone down then your child support can go down.

And that order can be retroactive but only retroactive to the date that you filed the request. So if you don’t file with the court requesting that your child support be lowered, it won’t be lowered.

And if you wait five months to do it, then it’s not going to go back to the date when your income change. It’s only going to go back to the date of filing.

So there are limited things that can be done in court right now, but one thing that can be done in Tulsa County and elsewhere is you still can file pleadings, although the procedures have changed.

So if you’ve had a change in income, don’t wait, make sure you get that motion to modify child support on file. But another issue to address is if you are unable to pay the child support, you’re paying a reduced amount, what are the consequences of that?

They may eventually come back to get you. So you want to pay at least what you’re able to so that you can demonstrate that you’ve done what you can so that although you may be in violation of the court order, it’s not a willful violation and that would be a defense to contempt.

But additionally, the courts are really limited in what they’re hearing right now at just this current moment. So although the other side could file a contempt, it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to get an arraignment date on that soon or get a hearing date on that soon because it’s not an emergency matter.

So that may give you the time that you need to get a modification on file or to get other employment, other sources of income.

But the important thing is to be proactive. Don’t let it go. Don’t wait until you’ve got a new source of income to file a modification because then it’s too late and it can’t be retroactive anyway. So if you’ve lost your job, you’re probably going to need more than this general information.

You’re going to want to talk to an attorney about your specific circumstances. My firm does offer consultations for that. If you’d like to talk to me or another lawyer at the firm, go to makelaweasy.com.

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