Modifying Spousal Maintenance and Child Support During the COVID-19 Crisis

By Allison Fredrickson | Family & Divorce Law

The mandatory stay-at-home order has forced businesses to shut down and layoff many workers. These shutdowns are taking a toll on people financially and unfortunately, we don’t know when it might end. There is a trickle down effect for those people who are paying child support or spousal maintenance. Previously, these amounts were calculated based on levels of income that individuals may no longer have nor will have in the foreseeable future.

Minnesota allows for spousal maintenance and child support obligations to be modified due to a substantial increase or decrease to earnings. A modification can be done by agreement or court order. The date you serve and file your motion is the date that support can be retroactive to, so we are suggesting that a party who cannot afford their monthly obligation immediately ask for and obtain a hearing date and serve a simple motion. The Court may only have the ability to hear these motions via ITV or through written submissions, but it is important to get the date set as hearings are going to be backlogged once the Court are open again.

Even if you believe that you may be able to reach an agreement with the other party, you must still get a date and serve the motion to preserve retroactivity or the backdating of the effective date for the new support amount. By filing the motion, you may be able to incentivize the other party to engage in a discussion about mutually agreeing to change the support amount, at least temporarily. The other party may be more willing to avoid the court hearing and come up with a solution that works for both parties. If that doesn’t happen, the court hearing is still there.

Minnesota Courts are scheduled to reopen on April 23, 2020. Whatever date the courts do actually open, a request to change support can be prepared now for filing, and the hearing date will then be assigned. Whichever the case now is the time to ask for a modification of support if you have suffered a loss of income.

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