If you have a decree from a family law case that includes matters of custody, access and possession, child support and health insurance for minors, you may be facing some real challenges.
You may not be able to exercise your court-ordered visits due to restrictions on social distancing.
You may have a parent with the Coronavirus, in possession of the child!
If you are subject to a child support order and lose your employment and can’t pay your child support as ordered, the child support arrears are going to start building up.
You may have health insurance that is covered by your employer’s employee health insurance plan and suddenly you are out of work and now without health insurance for your children.
You may have a child still enrolled in high school, but over the age of 18. In Texas child support continues until the later of two events, either the child ages out at age 18 or the child graduates from high school. There are many children still fully enrolled in high school at age 18. The law is designed to encourage children to stay enrolled in high school until they graduate, even though already age 18. Now, child are not attending high school due to the Coronavirus crisis. The courts will need to determine whether the child support ends or continues even though the child is not enrolled in school fulltime.
These examples are only a sampling of what challenges the family courts are going to be facing due to the Coronavirus.
However, there are some practical solutions. Of course, these solutions are going to require a higher level of cooperation between the parents, with or without court intervention.
If you are subject to a child support order and lose your job, you could file a formal petition to reduce your child support and have that petition served on the parent receiving the child support. That allows the court to adjust child support back to the date the other party was served with the petition. It backdates the reduced level of child support to the date of service.
Parents can enter into written agreements modifying just about every aspect of their court order. For example, parties can agree to modify access and possession orders.
Parents can agree to the suspension of child support payments. This would require an extra formal step of an affidavit executed by the child support obligee (the one receiving the child support). This form is available from the State Disbursement Unit in San Antonio which can be obtained over the Internet. Start your search for the appropriate form by typing in “Texas Attorney General child support payment forms”, or a variable of this term. You can find a form that will allow the parties to declare payments, even though not received. This form will need to be fax’ed or scanned to the Texas State Disbursement Unit with the case number included in the form.
Parents can use Internet technology to enhance Facetime, Skype or even Zoom to connect parents with their child.
You may need to file a formal petition to modify terms governing your parent-child order. Call us with any questions you may have during this crisis. We have handled thousands of cases involving children. Call us at 915-593-6600 or at 915-256-0579. We are open for business!! We can use confer with you either in the office or over the phone and can initiate pleadings quickly once hired. Call us. We are ready to serve you.