The Impact of the Coronavirus Shutdown on Alimony and Child Support Orders

The world has changed in the past two weeks.  The support agreement you negotiated in 2018 or 2019 may be in jeopardy.  With the economy in a state of turmoil, the coronavirus already has impacted many people’s weekly earnings.  With the court closures, many family law practitioners have sought guidance from the Superior Court on the steps that can be taken now to preserve a claim for the retroactive application of child support and alimony modifications. Are these requests the harbinger of a coming deluge of post-judgment motions seeking alimony and child support modifications?  Time will tell. 

Alimony and child support modifications are not guaranteed—even where there has been a job loss or income disruption.  In certain circumstances, the Superior Court may base a support payment on an “earning capacity” as opposed to that person’s actual earnings.  For business owners subject to support orders, modification proceedings can be particularly complex.  In many of these cases, expert witnesses can be successfully utilized to establish or contest a claimed decrease in a business owner’s compensation.  We work closely with our clients and have access to the region’s most trusted forensic accounting and valuation experts.

Our experienced team of family law attorneys remain available to discuss your specific circumstances.  Our Family Law Group includes top trial and appellate lawyers, two retired judges and collaboratively trained attorneys.  For each family there is a tailored approach.  We are on the other end of a phone call, an email, or Zoom conference to help you figure out where to go from here.  While the courts are all but shut down, we are working on creative solutions and planning to position each of our clients as advantageously as possible. We will talk to you about the implications of job loss, portfolio diminution and parenting apart in this challenging world. 

During these difficult times, the Family Law Group at Pullman & Comley is uniquely situated.  We have on-demand access to our entire firm’s reach and depth. Our partners at Pullman & Comley are labor and employment, commercial, trust and estates and—yes—bankruptcy attorneys, tax attorneys and more.  If you or your business needs advice, we are available to discuss all the available options.  With the Superior Court unavailable to help resolve all but the most emergent of issues, our ADR group also remains ready to help you or your business with any disputes that arise.

Pullman & Comley attorneys have been closely monitoring the many developing implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for businesses and for professionals, including law firms.  We have been responding, and will continue to respond, to a wide range of risk management questions.  The firm’s FOCUS page for the latest COVID-19 advisories may be found here.

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