The coronavirus pandemic continues to pose challenges across the country. Aside from health considerations, which are at the forefront of everyone’s minds, one of the primary sources of anxiety for many people in Canada is finances. Since the start of the spread of COVID-19 in our country, thousands of employees have been laid off and thousands more have been forced to take unpaid leave to care for children while schools have closed, care for sick family members or to quarantine themselves. As a result, over 1 million Canadians have applied for employment insurance, prompting the federal government to take emergency action and create a support benefit aimed at providing financial relief for the millions of people who’s livelihoods have been negatively affected by COVID-19.
With respect to family law matters, one question on people’s minds is how the health crisis has affected child support obligations. If a parent has lost their job due to layoffs or business closure in recent weeks, their financial situation may be drastically different than it was just a few months ago. In such a case, are they still obligated to pay child support as usual?
Those who owe child support and are facing financial changes due to a layoff, quarantine or other issues are still obligated to make payments as usual, and there is little that can be done to change that in the interim. Typically, when a payor’s financial situation changes drastically, they will need to apply in court for a variance of their child support obligations to reflect their new circumstances. However, due to the pandemic, Alberta’s courts are closed to all but urgent criminal and family matters, and support obligations are not considered urgent at the present time.
With no option to seek a change to one’s obligations, this may put some payors in the position of having to pay child support over basic necessities for themselves, such as food or shelter. The other parent receiving the payments may also be facing financial hardship, making them more reliant than usual on the payments to provide basic care for their child(ren).
However, there may be an option that will help provide some relief for parents facing unprecedented financial hardship during this unusual time. We will discuss this further in a follow-up post tomorrow.
The challenges presented by the coronavirus are numerous and widespread. If you are unsure about how the current circumstances may affect your family obligations or rights, the family lawyers at Mincher Koeman can provide necessary guidance.
Our exclusive focus on family law helps our clients navigate the emotional and financial challenges a family law matter can present. Our team remains fully operational, and we have implemented various technologies that allow us to continue to advise clients seamlessly during this time. If you have a family law issue that you need assistance with, please contact us online or phone at (403) 901-3000 to talk with one of our lawyers today.
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