If you are having a tough time paying your support payments as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you need to seek the court’s approval to abate or suspend your payments. Amidst everything that is happening in the world right now, the last thing people may be thinking about is their child support payments. However, if you have a child or spousal support payment (formerly called “alimony”), you may want to take notice and act quickly.

The Coronavirus is causing an economic calamity the likes of which the world has never seen. The global economic gears are coming to a grinding halt for an unknown and indefinite period of time. Inevitably, people will experience a sharp decline in business revenues and profits (if they are business owners), real estate owners may have decreased rents, and employees may find themselves laid off, out of work, or working reduced hours. Already this week, unemployment claims jumped by 70,000 people newly out of work. Sure, it is very likely that many people may be rehired by their employers, or that the revenues will return after COVID-19 no longer faces an existential threat. The concern is that people will not be able to pay their bills, child and spousal support payments included.

Relief from those support payments is available when experiencing an economic downturn. Of particular importance, child support payments (unlike credit card bills and rent) are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Further, simply relying on the good graces of your former spouse may be well-intentioned, but is likely a road to ruin. This is because once a support payment becomes due, a court generally does not have the power to change it. So even though a former spouse said “it’s ok, take the month off”, they can change their mind and there is nothing you can do about it. A court can only change support payments that come due after you file your petition.

(See the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, Section 510). Therefore, you cannot wait! As of this writing, the courts are generally closed. However, the electronic filing systems are up, and deadlines for filing petitions are not being delayed. Therefore, without you or your attorney knowing when you will actually get a court date, you still have the ability to modify or suspend prior child support payments. If you have experienced a substantial change in your income and want relief from your child or spousal support payments, connect with family law attorney Mark Schondorf at 312-878-1208 | mschondorf@hechtschondorf.com or complete our Contact Form.

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