The coronavirus pandemic has closed down much of the U.S. economy. In the state of Florida, a large percentage of workers have either been laid off or furloughed until further notice. Many individuals in this category are not only worried about how to survive without a paycheck, but about how this enormous alteration of their finances will affect how much child support they will receive or be expected to pay.
If you are troubled by your new status as a furloughed employee, your best bet is to consult with a strong Florida divorce attorney like Orlando Family Team. No matter whether you are unable to meet your child support responsibilities, or conversely, are afraid you won’t be able to pay your bills without incoming child support payments, our empathic attorneys will provide you with emotional support and realistic options.
What exactly does being furloughed mean?
A furlough is essentially a mandatory suspension from work during which the employee is not paid. Furloughs usually affect a particular business because of a specific calamity (like a fire), or affect a type of business when there are economic reversals for a particular industry. In the first half of 2020, however, because of a pandemic unlike anything seen during the past century, a very high percentage of businesses have shut down, leaving over 17 million Americans unemployed.
In Florida, Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando has been one of the places hardest hit. Seventy-thousand workers from that one corporation are right now relying on unemployment for sustenance. It should be noted that unemployment is funded by the federal government, but administered by the states. The Florida State Unemployment Assistance Program measures up poorly against most other states, allocating only $275 a week for 12 weeks to eligible recipients. Forty-thousand of those let go by Disney have been furloughed.
Furloughed Workers Are in a Double Bind
Private employees on furlough usually consider applying for unemployment insurance or taking temporary jobs to see them through. Unfortunately, if a privately furloughed employee takes either of these actions, he or she is usually responsible for paying back any monies received as soon as the furlough is over. To add insult to injury, divorcé(e)s responsible for paying child support continue to be held accountable for any support payments they miss, along with penalties for lateness. Government workers on furlough have an advantage here since they maintain unemployment rights and cannot be fired or replaced without due process during their furloughed tenure, which may last for up to a year.
Furloughed employees, even those who work for private companies, have an expectation that they will return to work. In most cases, the employers will either provide the furloughed employers with a specific date of the expected return or indicate that they will be able to resume past duties when they have fulfilled a required task, such as obtaining a certification. During the pandemic, though, furloughs almost uniformly occur because businesses cannot afford to pay their employees during a period during which they cannot maintain their bottom line.
Much Remains Unknown
As of only a few months ago, most of us were living in a different world. COVID-19 has brought with it a tremendous amount of turmoil, but it has also brought a determination to adapt to our new environment. The answers to many of our questions, including those concerning how child support is affected by employee furloughs, can, for the moment, only be answered tentatively. New legislation is being conceived and enacted practically daily and it will take more time for the law to catch up with our new reality.
One thing is for sure — your children must be supported. That need won’t change. It is possible, though, that laws will be amended to make room for increased flexibility during this period of great struggle. For example, suppose you are a child support payor and your wages have been garnished because you were delinquent in previous payments. If now, as a government employee who has been furloughed, you are not receiving a paycheck from which the state can withhold child support due, will you still be charged exorbitant penalties (as much as 10 percent compounded) for lack of payment?
In order to understand the most recent legal developments to divorce law, and how they will affect you and your child support, it is best to consult with a dependable divorce lawyer. In the face of all the changes that have come to the state of Florida, the United States, and the world in the past few months, it is difficult to predict what will happen next. It seems that the more the population struggles, the more likely the courts are to make pragmatic exceptions. This may tilt new legislation in favor of the payor of child support. Nonetheless, all children have the right to be fed and clothed and protected from danger, so we’ll have to wait and see.
To Best Protect Yourself and Your Children, Contact Orlando Family Team
For your own safety and the safety of your children, it is crucial that you get proper legal counsel from a team with a reputation for being trustworthy and dedicated to their clients. Contact Orlando Family Team. We are committed to protecting your rights while making certain your children are provided for during the pandemic.