The government shutdown of 2018-2019 has left approximately 800,000 federal workers without pay — but that’s just the start of the real human toll that’s being exacted from the budget fight being waged. The families of all of those federal workers are also affected.
What do you do if you are a federal worker who has now missed a paycheck while the government shutdown goes on and you owe child support or spousal support (or both)? You know that it’s uncertain whether or not you’ll eventually see your back pay — and you may have no idea how long it will take since it’s far from automatic.
Here are some tips:
1. Do not try to pay your support on credit. That’s only likely to create a bigger financial disaster in the long run for you — and it isn’t sustainable. You’ll eventually run out of credit.
2. Reach out — in writing — to the other party. Whether you owe spousal support or child support, you need to notify the other party that you are going to miss a payment.
The odds are good that they’re expecting the notice, so they may be willing to work out an agreement with you regarding the missing funds. Just make certain that you get the agreement in writing and run it by your attorney to make sure that it is likely to be upheld by the judge if there’s a problem later.
3. You can seek a temporary modification of your support order. Generally speaking, there has to be a significant change in your financial circumstances to qualify for a modification of support — and the lack of a paycheck probably qualifies.
Even if the shutdown is over by the time you read this, it may be a while before Congress authorizes the back pay for the time you were furloughed. You may also have some significant debts pile up. A temporary modification order may be necessary to help you ease your tangled finances as you recover. Our office can talk to you about your situation and help you understand your options.