This is the next post in a series of articles discussing the potential impact of COVID-19 on child support obligations in Las Vegas, Nevada. My previous post discussed situations in which the Court may entertain a request to modify child support during the pandemic. Under normal circumstances, only a long-term or permanent significant reduction would justify such a change. In these unprecedented times, however, the Court is more likely to recognize that temporary income reductions resulting from layoffs, business closures, or other COVID-related impacts, may justify relief while the parent is impacted during the pandemic. In this post, I will discuss reasons why the Court may order ongoing reviews of a child support reduction related to COVID-19. If you need assistance, contact my office to speak with an attorney.
Nevada law establishes a process under which parents may seek modifications of their child support obligations. Under normal circumstances, such a review may occur once every three years or sooner if either parent has experienced a sufficient change in circumstances. Given the widespread negative impact of COVID-19 on employment, however, the Clark County Family Court is likely to consider pandemic-related income reductions when evaluating such requests. This is true because although the economy will likely improve as conditions improve and restrictions are lifted, the long-term impact on individuals who have been furloughed, terminated, or otherwise experienced income loss is unknown. Each case will depend upon the specific facts and circumstances of a person’s employment, including whether they have a scheduled or anticipated date to return to work, if they are employed in harder-hit industries, or whether they have recouped their lost income through state or federal benefits. Because situations can change quickly, the Court will likely schedule periodic reviews for child support modifications based on COVID-related reductions in income.
Consider the following example. A mother is employed as an architect designing luxury hotels and receives a salary of $200,000 per year. Prior to the pandemic, she was ordered to pay her ex-spouse child support in the amount of $1,500 per month. When COVID-19 hit the country, she and most of her colleagues were laid off from the firm pending a resurgence in demand for their services. While she qualifies for and receives some unemployment benefits, she is unable to meet her child support obligations on a regular basis. Rather than risk noncompliance with her court order, she asks the Court to reduce her payment amount until such time as she returns to work. She does not know when that will be but is assured by her employer that they will reopen at full capacity once demand has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Depending upon the other facts involved in her case, the Court may grant her request for a reduction. They will, however, likely require status checks at regular intervals to determine if she has been rehired, found new employment, or is otherwise able to make increased payments.
Child support modification cases can involve complicated facts and legal arguments. This is particularly true during the pandemic as it creates unprecedented challenges for our residents. It is important to retain an attorney with experience in child support matters to assist you. Contact my office today to speak with a Las Vegas lawyer.