During this incredibly difficult economic time due to the Covid-19 crisis, there is very often a significant reduction, or even loss altogether, in a person’s employment income. Thus, the ability to pay household bills and other financial obligations is seriously impacted. Our entire nation is facing an unprecedented and rapid economic downturn resulting in numerous layoffs and furloughs.
Importantly, if you are under a court order to make child support and/or alimony payments, and your financial circumstances have changed for the worse due to a decrease in your pay you should immediately obtain either an agreement to modify your support obligation signed by the parties and approved by the Court or you should immediately file a Motion to Modify your obligation with the applicable court. The law in New Hampshire is very clear that a court can only modify an order for support back to the date a Motion to Modify is served on the opposing party. Many people make the unfortunate mistake of waiting to file a Motion to Modify their support obligation with the court because the parent or ex-spouse who is supposed to be receiving the court-ordered support does not object to not receiving the support or might even agree verbally to not receiving it from the person obligated to pay. The problem with that is that the previous court-ordered amount will continue to accrue until the court order is changed by a court approved agreement of the parties or a court order (a new Uniform Support Order and/or new Uniform Alimony Order). We have seen many cases where courts have ordered persons to pay large child support or alimony arrearages when people were out of work and clearly unable to pay because they had not obtained a court-approved modification order. The bottom line is do not wait to take action. If you are court-ordered to pay child support or alimony and have lost your job or your pay has been decreased by an employer, immediately get an agreement to modify signed by both parties and approved by the court or file a Motion to Modify with the court.
Even though the New Hampshire courts are now closed as to conducting in person hearings, a motion to modify can still be filed and a hearing conducted telephonically.
The lawyers at Welts, White & Fontaine can provide you guidance on the applicable law and assistance in preparing the requisite paperwork and if necessary, appearing in court to represent your interest.
Author: Michael J. Fontaine
This blog is intended for informational use only. The information contained herein should not be construed as offering legal advice or a legal opinion.