Pandemics do not result in fewer concerns about child support in Texas.
To be sure, many parents who make child support payments have lost their jobs. As a result, those parents have concerns about upholding child support obligations. Likewise, parents who receive child support payments have concerns about losing that support. As an article in the Patch clarifies, the Texas Child Support Division will not close due to coronavirus. Rather, it will transition to a virtual presence. For parents, this means that all physical child support offices in the state will be closed. However, parents can seek information and services through the phone and the internet. The Child Support Division also anticipates chat capabilities soon.
Many parents likely will need to consult the Child Support Division during the coronavirus pandemic due to job loss.
Indeed, parents in Collin County and throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area are experiencing layoffs and business closures. Collin County has not yet ordered business to close on a large scale. However, many parents who pay child support work in Dallas County, Tarrant County, or Denton County. Retail establishments, restaurants, and many other businesses in those counties closed temporarily due to coronavirus. While some businesses will pay employees in the short term despite closures, many cannot afford to do so. Accordingly, parents responsible for child support might not have an income.
Typically, when parents lose a job and cannot immediately find another one, they would seek a modification.
Or, if a parent loses a job and takes a new job with a pay cut, that parent could seek a modification. Yet the coronavirus pandemic makes seeking a modification of the child support obligation much more complicated. In mid-March, Collin County suspended all court matters except those deemed essential. Accordingly, for nearly all civil issues, courts will not hear cases until at least May 8. It is possible that, if the pandemic persists, the court closures will be extended beyond that date.
As such, Cain explained, “no clear rules are in place to address the complicated family law matters likely to arise.” In general, parents should make a good faith effort to meet child support obligations. Those parents who have lost jobs can also reach out to the Child Support Division for information. In some situations, virtual court hearings may be possible. However, given the high rate of job loss, many parents will not be able to fully meet child support obligations.