Modification of Alimony and COVID-19 Coronavirus is a common topic during these difficult days.
How does the virus affect alimony payments in Connecticut? I am asked this question frequently.
If you have experienced a change in circumstances or financial ability such that you are unable to meet the terms of the current alimony order, you may be able to reduce your obligation by filing a Motion for Modification.
Here is what you need to know if you are currently making court-ordered alimony payments:
In Connecticut, an individual may file a Motion for Modification to request a reduction in their alimony obligation if that person’s financial circumstances have changed substantially. Although slight increases or decreases to someone’s finances do not typically justify a modification, a “substantial” change such as a layoff, furlough, or other dramatic change in income qualifies. Accordingly, a loss of income or cash flow due to COVID-19 will likely be viewed as a substantial, involuntary and unforeseen change that would justify a modification of alimony.
You Should File a Motion for Modification Sooner Rather than Later
The Connecticut modification statute states: “No order for periodic payment of permanent alimony or support may be subject to retroactive modification, except that the court may order modification with respect to any period during which there is a pending motion for modification of an alimony or support order from the date of service of notice of such pending motion upon the opposing party pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes section 52-50.”
Therefore, because a judge has the authority to modify your alimony obligation retroactively, its important not to delay the filing of a Motion for Modification. However, if you continue paying alimony without having filed a Motion for Modification, you cannot go back later and request credit for any amounts you paid.
So, if you have experienced a “substantial change” in your financial circumstances due to the Coronavirus, you should act quickly.
Connecticut Courts Have Limited Availability because of Coronavirus
I expect the Connecticut Courts to have reduced availability to decide alimony cases in the foreseeable future. In fact, many courts are now closed to the public. Those courts that remain open are only hearing priority cases such as Restraining Orders and emergencies related to children. However, you can still file a Motion for Modification since the courts are able to receive electronic filings and “snail mail” filings. The Courts have also set up drop boxes in Courthouse lobbies for filings.
When the courts do resume normal functions, I expect the court system to be backlogged with cases that have “piled up.”
With the court having less availability and an increase in the number of Motions for Modification of Alimony and COVID-19 Coronavirus being filed, the court system may become overwhelmed. Consider this and get in the Court’s “line” as soon as possible.
Connecticut Modification of Alimony Lawyer
In my opinion, a Modification of Alimony and COVID-19 Coronavirus has an increased chance of success. Often times, when a party seeks a downward modification of alimony, judges are skeptical. However, if the Coronavirus caused business losses or reduced your income, the judge may not have much trouble believing you. After all, it is commonly understood that employees in certain industries will be adversely affected for months and possibly years to come. Since the Coronavirus’ effects on the economy are so well-known, convincing a judge that it has caused a substantial change in your financial circumstances may be easier than usual.
I represent clients in divorce and all Family Court matters matters though out Fairfield and New Haven County including those who reside in Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Trumbull, Stratford, Bridgeport, Westport, Weston, New Canaan, Wilton, Norwalk, Darien, Stamford, Greenwich, Shelton, Orange and Milford.