In response to the public health crisis, businesses across California have had to adapt their services or close, resulting in a reduction of income or loss of jobs for many. Similarly, the Courts have adjusted to public health orders by limiting services and are currently conducting hearings for emergency issues only for a limited time. Non-emergency issues, such as modification of support, will not be heard until the Courts fully reopen. However, the Courts are accepting new filings for family law issues. If your income has been affected by the public health crisis, you can file for a modification of child support and or spousal support now. That gives you the ability to open a line of discussion to a potential settlement before the Courts fully reopen for all matters sometime later this year.
Filing for a modification of support is extremely important if your financial circumstances have changed because state law prohibits the Courts from retroactively modifying a support order, even under the current crisis. So, even if the Courts are not hearing modification cases at this time, you are still able to preserve your right to modification by filing. It is imperative to file for a modification of support soon after a job loss or significant pay reduction because the Court can’t back-date modifications. Thus, if you stop paying your court-ordered support, you will not be able to avoid accumulating arrears. Unpaid support arrears accrue interest at a rate of 10 percent per annum, and it cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, and there is no statute of limitations on unpaid support. If you need more support due to a job loss, you will also need to file for a modification of support because you cannot go back to a date earlier than your filing date.
Do not assume that the state Legislature will come to your rescue with emergency legislation in this area. If your financial circumstances have changed, whether you are currently paying or receiving support according to a Court order, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney. The Reape-Rickett Law Firm can help you navigate the modification process and is providing consultations via phone or video conferencing. Don’t hesitate to contact our firm and consult with one of our experienced attorneys today.