What do you do if the novel coronavirus shut your employer down, caused you to go on vacation, caused you to quit, or otherwise suddenly left you with no income to pay child support and / or alimony? What do you do when you are a maintenance recipient and need to figure out how to pay bills and make ends meet without the support of your child’s parent or ex-spouse?
Such a pandemic has far-reaching economic consequences in relation to these family law issues and can put a considerable burden on both the debtor and the payee.
In general, New Jersey law states that a temporary change in economic circumstances does not change the debtor’s maintenance obligation, even temporarily.
Given the global attention and knowledge of the widespread and unprecedented economic impact of this pandemic and the sudden closure of many offices and businesses by the state, a court like the Family Court may well provide relief for the payer.
This is particularly likely if both the payer and the recipient of the assistance have problems alike. A look at the totality of the financial circumstances of the individual parties would be necessary.
Compromises may be appropriate, although care must be taken to correctly word the entire agreement to avoid problems of interpretation or enforcement later, and legal counsel is highly recommended.
In cases where parents cannot reconcile their differences and cannot compromise, those parents may need to seek judicial intervention or some form of virtual alternative dispute resolution and should seek legal advice immediately.
COPYRIGHT © 2020, STRONG & STRONGNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 91