COVID-19 and Child Support
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has put many New Hampshire parents out of work and unable to make their Court ordered child support payments. In order to avoid facing a potential contempt action and to avoid racking up a child support debt during a period of time when a parent is unable to pay child support, obligor parents should be vigilant in protecting their rights.
Parents who have been ordered by a New Hampshire Court to pay child support to a co-parent should be mindful that their support obligation does not end or get reduced automatically simply because of a change in their employment status. In other words, an obligor parent will be indebted to their co-parent for their weekly or monthly payments, even if the obligor parent is no longer working or has had their hours reduced. As a result, any parent that is unable to meet their child support obligation due to a change in employment should consider taking immediate action to file for a modification to their child support order due to their change in employment.
RSA 458-C:7 provides New Hampshire Courts with the authority to modify a child support order retroactively to the date of service of a Petition for Modification. As a result, even though an obligor parent will likely need to wait months following the filing of their petition to get a child support hearing, the sooner the obligor parent files for a modification to their child support, the more retroactive relief they are likely to receive from the Court and the less child support they will end up owing to their co-parent.
It is equally important to understand that private agreements between parents regarding child support are not enforceable unless approved by the Court. As a result, if you and your co-parent have reached an agreement regarding child support, you need to file it with the Court, otherwise the Court will consider your whole obligation to still be due and payable.
Filing for a Child Support Modification can be a complicated and challenging process. If you would like help with this process, please contact our family law team at Soule, Leslie, Kidder, Sayward & Loughman for assistance.