Law Office of Kevin L. Beard, P.A.

The government shutdown and your divorce

The government shutdown that started in late 2018 and carried over in 2019 is now officially the longest in the history of the United States. That's bad news for a lot of people. Could it also affect your divorce?

Possibly. Whether you're (hopefully) reading this after the shutdown is over or it is still ongoing, these are some of the things that could be affected:

Spousal support and child support issues

If either your or your spouse works for the government, the shutdown will likely impact your cash flow. Whether you are owed support, or you owe it, the money simply isn't there when someone is furloughed.

Government employees have traditionally been paid for the time they were furloughed after a shutdown is over -- but that does take an act of Congress to happen. There are no guarantees. Even when the shutdown is over, it may take a while to get the back support paid.

If you owe support and are impacted by the shutdown, talk to your attorney right away. Your support obligation doesn't go away because of the shutdown alone -- you must talk to the judge in your case to get a modification of the support order.

Documentation problems

Getting a divorce usually requires a lot of documentation. During the shutdown, it may not be possible to get all of the documentation you need to move forward with your divorce.

For example, if you need copies of your tax returns for the last few years -- you're probably out of luck during the shutdown. Most IRS employees are on furlough. Even if the shutdown is over, expect the backlog of requests to drag on for a while, slowing things down.

Similarly, if you're waiting on documentation that will help you pay to refinance your mortgage or get a new place, you'll be waiting at least until the shutdown is over to move on.

Finally, there's just the issue of money itself and how that affects a divorce. You can't move out if you don't have an income. You can't pay your legal fees without one either. If you or your spouse depend on a government paycheck, your divorce may come to halt until the shutdown is over.

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