For many Americans, the pandemic has changed day to day life in ways that still feel surreal. One of the most important ways that the world has changed is the way that we work; for many of us, virtual work has become the norm, as we’ve transitioned away from traditional office work spaces. Still others have found themselves furloughed, or temporarily without work at all. With many schools and daycares closed as well, many families have found the situation at home to be untenable, to put it simply.
Many daycares are closed. Schools have transitioned to, for the most part, a virtual learning environment, whatever that means.
One thing, however, is clear: the onus for all of this change and transition has fallen on American women, particularly working women (of whom, it must be said, I am definitely one). I’ve read articles that say that these problems will hurt women in the workforce for years and years to come. Because of a number of challenges – the rising cost of childcare, layoffs and company closures, schools being entirely online – women are leaving the workforce in droves. Some are choosing to leave it; others have to, as their jobs disappear or their childcare evaporates.
Regardless of whether it’s a choice or not, the repercussions reverberate through our family lives and through our economy. It’s a little frightening, to put it mildly.
While I absolutely do not have solutions for all the problems that might be facing your family in the days, weeks, or even years to come, I do want to point out one thing: you don’t have to bear the rising cost in childcare alone.
The rising cost of childcare will affect your guideline child support calculation
Remember, childcare is something that is factored in to the child support calculation. It’s also modifiable based on a material change in circumstances.
I’m not sure whether I need to say this explicitly, but I will anyway: the pandemic, and the resulting changes that you’ve needed to make, can ultimately affect child support. (And custody and visitation, if you petition to modify those, but that’s another story for another day.)
If your childcare situation has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, you do not have to bear those extra costs alone.
If you have to switch daycares to get consistent coverage and the new daycare is more expensive, that’s a material change. If you need to hire a tutor to help manage online learning while you manage working from home, that’s a material change. And while the changes are probably unwelcome to both you and your child’s father, it’s not like you have to bear the costs or the stress alone.
Whenever a big change becomes necessary, it’s a good idea to at least discuss the changes with your child’s father first.
Whenever you make these kinds of changes, it’s a good idea to discuss them with your child’s father first, rather than making unilateral changes – especially if it comes with an increase in his child support obligation. In the event that the two of you aren’t able to reach a decision, this falls under the joint legal custody heading, and you may have to petition the court to let a judge decide. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself, as much as possible, with how child support is calculated, too.
What happens if he won’t agree to make the change because it will cost him more money in support — but I have no choice? I have no options!
If you’re forced to make a change over his objection, it’s probably a good idea to talk to an attorney first about the specifics in your particular circumstances, and to file your petition for modification as soon as possible. Remember that, when it comes to back child support, the court can only go as far back as the petition was filed – so, if you wait too long, you’re giving up on potential back child support.
There’s a lot of uncertainty these days, and people are having to make big decisions that they have had very little time to prepare for. It’s hard!
As a mom and a working professional, I completely understand. Believe me, I understand! I’ve been making due with very, very little childcare since March – which was, coincidentally, the time I came back from maternity leave after adding a second baby to our family. I’ve not been insulated from these challenges, and am very acutely aware of the difficult decisions many families are having to make.
Still, as an attorney representing women only, I feel I need to advise you to consult with your child’s father, with an attorney, and, if necessary, seek the feedback of a judge to make sure that you are in the position you need to be in to safeguard your place in the workforce. You’re doing important work, both for yourself and your family (not to mention future generations of women who will benefit from our shared experience and the way we advance ourselves today!).
If you’re not sure what to do, check with your attorney before making any big decisions!
Don’t make any rash decisions without discussing your options. They may not be great options, but we’re all just trying to make some lemonade here in increasingly difficult circumstances.
For more information, or to discuss a petition for modification of child support because of the changes you’ve had to make during the coronavirus pandemic, give our office a call at 757-425-5200.