how is divorce different during covid

How Does COVID Affect Divorce, Child Custody, And Support Payments?

Goldberg Jones Divorce, Divorce Process, Featured Posts Leave a Comment

First, we want to reassure everyone that we remain open and available to help with any divorce, custody, or other issues you face. We’ve been here and we will continue to be here to help.

We have already implemented methods of remote communication as well as to ensure a safe and clean office environment. Because our office has long been looked at as a national resource for clients that live out of state, we are also well ahead of the curve in remote communication methods.

HOW DOES Coronavirus AFFECT DIVORCE?

There have already been significant changes that affect the divorce and family law process. With temporary court closures, it means our efforts now focus on alternative methods of dispute resolution such as mediation and binding arbitration. These are tools that have already been very effective in resolving cases short of trial and will be even more valuable now.

We have received many questions from clientele about covid-19 and the divorce process that we want to share in the form of an FAQ below:

ARE COURTS STILL OPEN?

Despite changes and new hurdles to clear, the courts also remain in service. They’re operating at a limited capacity and things may take longer than usual, but they are open.

HOW DOES COVID CHANGE THE DIVORCE PROCESS?

The biggest change currently is the lack of the court system as a resource to resolve temporary issues and as a last resort for trial.

However, this only serves to highlight the benefit of alternative dispute resolution options such as mediation and binding arbitration. These methods are already proven to be less costly and more efficient ways of resolving case issues during COVID-19.

CAN YOU START A DIVORCE OR MODIFICATION NOW?

You can proceed with a divorce, settling custody disputes, modifications, and other cases. It may look different, but with tools like video conferencing and other remote communication technology, you can still accomplish your goals.

In fact, waiting to start a case can have negative effects on custody cases if it creates an appearance that you did not place an urgency.

It can also negatively affect cases in which financial relief is requested, as the outcome is often retroactive to the time of filing.

HOW IS YOUR PARENTING PLAN OR CUSTODY ORDER AFFECTED BY COVID-19?

The short answer is that there is no change to the enforceability of your current Parenting Plan or Custody Order. However, there will definitely be strain put on a plan that was designed to assume school attendance, travel, and the like. We are sure to see unusual issues arise during this time.

Sticking to the parenting arrangement, even virtually, also benefits any future custody cases.

Taking advantage of your scheduled time with the kids demonstrates your desire to remain an involved parent. That reflects well on any claim you make down the road.

Most of all, it’s important to keep the lines of communication as open as possible.

WHAT IF YOU’RE BEHIND ON SUPPORT PAYMENTS?

In the United States, if you’re behind on your child support payments, the Division of Child Support must, by law, certify past due child support debts to the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement for enforcement.

Even when behind on payments, if COVID-19 caused the delay in payment, you still have the right to argue for modification.

Again, you have to show the impact. Demonstrate how the pandemic led to unforeseen and continuing financial devastation. This may serve as evidence to support your claims.

Related Reading: How Do You Change A Child Support Order

IF YOU LOSE YOUR JOB, DO YOU STILL HAVE TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT?

The easy answer is that your current Support Order is enforceable absent a proactive Modification or Adjustment that you would need to initiate. That being said, we expect that the courts will provide direction in the coming weeks as to how they address those circumstances.

The number of unique questions is sure to increase exponentially as we move forward. Answers we have now may change based on how the coronavirus situation evolves. We remain committed to agility in providing answers to your questions and relevant updates as they come in.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

Related Reading: Mediation Vs Arbitration
Related ReadingWhat Is In A Divorce Decree?

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