How Less Income Due to COVID-19 Impacts Your Support Obligations

Marriage support agreement
  • May 20 2020

Each week thousands of Illinois businesses are struggling to stay afloat in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Stay-at-Home Order has effectively shuttered thousands of non-essential businesses across the state and severely limited daily operations for many more.  Employers and business owners are fighting to survive.  Survival often means cutting payroll, swiftly and severely.  As a result, hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents are unemployed.  Many more have had their hours cut or their salaries slashed.  With bills mounting and less income to meet your household expenses you might be wondering how to get relief from your child support and/or spousal support (maintenance) obligations.

Support Orders Must be Modified by Court Order

Illinois child support and spousal support obligations are valid and enforceable unless modified by a court order.  Even if you cannot pay a prior support order due to a job loss, you remain obligated to pay the specified amount until the support order is modified by a subsequent court order.  To modify a support order, a motion must be filed with the family law court.  The motion must state the reason for the modification, i.e., job loss or reduced income.  Be prepared to provide proof of your reduced income. 

A family law judge may grant your request for a modification to your support obligation retroactive to the date your motion to modify was filed.   Note, the relief you seek is not retroactive to the day you lost your job or your income decreased.  Therefore, it is crucial to file modification motions as quickly as possible.  If your hours were reduced in early March, but you file a petition in July, the court cannot reduce your support obligations for the months of April, May and June.  Provided your motion is meritorious, your reduced obligation will be effective in July. 

The Circuit Court of DuPage and Cook Counties are Open

Nearly all Illinois courts have implemented restrictions changing normal operations in an effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19.  The restrictions focus mainly on reducing the number of people authorized in the courthouses.  Despite the restrictions, new electronic filings are being accepted in the Domestic Relations Divisions of Cook and DuPage Counties.   In cases where both parties are represented by an attorney, some hearings, pre-trials conferences, and prove-ups are being scheduled by video conference.  A knowledgeable Illinois divorce attorney will be able to help you navigate the unusual climate and get your matter before a judge. 

Contact an Illinois Divorce Attorney for Help

Contact the Illinois divorce attorneys at the Goodman Law Firm to discuss your situation. Our Illinois divorce attorneys have experience handling modifications to child support and spousal support orders.  Our offices remain open and our attorneys and staff are available to help you with your family law matters during this Covid-19 crisis. 

Posted in: COVID-19, Spousal maintenance