Lori K. Shemtob headshotBy Lori K. Shemtob, Esq.

Lately, we are fielding many questions and concerns regarding the impact of coronavirus on divorced and separated parties. My partner, Drew Taylor, recently wrote a blog about the impact of the coronavirus crisis on custody issues for divorced and separated parties. We are fielding more and more questions and concerns regarding this. Should I drop our child off to the father or mother? I am self-quarantined because I was exposed to COVID-19, should I take our children to the other parent’s house or keep them with me? My spouse Is self-quarantined and I don’t want to drop our children off, do I have to? I don’t think my spouse is taking the requisite precautions and I don’t want our children to be at his or her house, what can I do? These, among many other questions, are being asked.

In addition to the custody issues, we are beginning to see financial issues, and we anticipate many more issues related to division of assets (equitable distribution), child support, spousal support/alimony pendent lite (APL), and alimony. This blog will address the impact of this national crisis on child support and spousal support / APL.

If you or your spouse or former spouse have lost your jobs, or if you are receiving less income as a result of the mandated closures, you are probably wondering how will that affect the amount of child support, spousal support/APL, or alimony you are receiving or paying.

Child support and spousal support /APL are calculated based primarily on a formula using the incomes of both parties. If there has been a change in income of either of the parties, both child support and spousal support/APL will be affected.

In order to change a support order, a party must file a petition to modify support. Under Pennsylvania Law, modification is retroactive to the date of filing. Therefore, if someone were to lose their job on March 30 and waited until April 30 to file, then the modification would go into effect on April 30 regardless of the fact that employment ceased on March 30. This is a protective measure, so that when there is a change, the date it should be in effect can be preserved (by filing a petition). Thus, it is important to file promptly when any changes occur.

Due to the coronavirus, by mandate of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, all courts are closed and have only limited operations open for emergencies. However, it should be possible to preserve retro-activity by filing electronically.  In Pennsylvania, this can be done at the county level in some counties and on the PACSES website throughout the commonwealth.

In the unlikely event it is not possible to file electronically, please contact us to discuss alternative methods of placing the other side on notice to preserve retro-activity.

Many challenging issues have arisen as a result of this pandemic. We are in an unprecedented situation and the challenges are great. That is why we want you to know that we are working remotely and are available to you. We will continue to answer your questions, advocate for you, and navigate through this time together. Please don’t hesitate to call us.

The divorce and family law attorneys of Shemtob Draganosky Taylor can guide you through all of your divorce and family law matters including child support and spousal support issues. Contact our family lawyers for a confidential discussion.

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