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Divorce During COVID-19: Support Payments When Experiencing Job Loss

During COVID-19, many Ontarians are experiencing job loss but still have child support or spousal support payments to make.  Places of work are closed because of COVID-19.  People have been laid-off due to a shortage of work in connection with COVID-19.

This has an impact on both the support payor and recipient.  If there is a support order or Agreement in place, the expectation is that the support payments will continue.  Since the courts have suspended regular operations, in most cases, the payor cannot ask the court to change an existing order right now.

If you are a support payor, you should tell the recipient or their lawyer about your situation and make a reasonable temporary proposal for payment.  Make sure you have applied for all government financial assistance programs available to you.  Be proactive and provide financial disclosure in support of your circumstances.

If you are a support recipient and your payor approaches you about support because he or she is out of work, do not ignore requests for a temporary change.

On consent, support can be reduced on a temporary basis.  The arrangements should include terms about how the balance of the support owing will be made-up, for example, when the payor returns to work, or, the terms can specify a review date/expiry date.  Then both sides can come back to this issue in a few months when there is more certainty about the payor’s employment situation.

If the change in your employment is not temporary or your financial circumstances are impacted on a more long-term basis, you may have to go back to court, when the courts are available, to address problems like significant arrears that have accumulated or a new support amount if your income has gone down substantially on a more permanent basis.

If you have questions about how COVID-19 impacts your family law matter, call Natalie Taccone at 416-987-3300 or email her at ntaccone@bortolussifamilylaw.com.