Can You Lower Your Child Support and Alimony Payments During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “How is the amount of child support decided in North Carolina?”


As of March 30, North Carolina has over 1,300 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease, while at least six people died from COVID-19 in the state, including one coronavirus-related death in Mecklenburg County.

Doctor-mask-Charlotte-Monroe-Lake-Norman-Criminal-Defense-300x225Several days earlier, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued a “stay at home” order for the entire state. The order went into effect at 5 p.m. on March 30 and will remain in place for 30 days, according to WBTV.


A Surge in U.S. Unemployment Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic

As most businesses have been shut down in North Carolina and all across the nation, a record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, according to The Washington Post. As experts predict a recession in 2020, the U.S. unemployment rate has risen to 5.5% already, according to the report.

For those paying or receiving child support – and alimony, for that matter – the obligor parent becoming unemployed or experiencing a substantial loss of income can be a tremendous financial blow for both parents and their children.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in unemployment across the country, and things could get much worse as the end of the pandemic is nowhere in sight. As more people are laid off and lose their jobs, there is an ever-increasing demand for reduction in child support and spousal support in North Carolina. Can you lower these payments due to the coronavirus pandemic?


Lowering Child Support or Alimony Payments Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Not long ago, Marvel actor Jeremy Renner asked a judge to reduce his child support payments due to the pandemic, according to The Daily Beast. According to court documents, the actor said he is facing an unexpected financial situation due to the pandemic and its effect on the film and television industry.

Renner asked to reduce payments to his ex-wife, Sonni Pacheco, for their daughter to $11,201 per month. Currently, the actor is paying $30,000 per month, but he argues that the lowered amount would closely match his daughter’s “reasonable needs.”

Normally, the obligor who cannot afford to make child support or alimony payments due to an involuntary and substantial loss in income can request a modification to the existing order. However, doing so is difficult or even impossible during the COVID-19 pandemic because North Carolina courts have been “largely closed” in response to the pandemic.


Grounds to Reduce Child Support During the Pandemic

There are at least two potential grounds to request a modification to child support during the coronavirus pandemic.

Involuntary Decrease in Income

An involuntary loss of a job or mandatory reduction in work hours can be a valid ground to reduce the child support payment. As over 160,000 people in North Carolina are projected to lose their job as a result of the coronavirus and hundreds of thousands of others could be hit with pay cuts or reduced work hours, you may be able to lower your child support obligation if you were affected.

The Child’s Needs Suddenly Change

If your child no longer requires daycare services during the coronavirus pandemic, you may be able to lower the amount of child support. The same principle applies if the child’s other needs suddenly change because of COVID-19.

Talk to a Charlotte child custody attorney if you want to lower the payments during the COVID-19 pandemic or if you are the parent who receives child support to fight against the requested modification. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, for a consultation. Speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.







The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.





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