Over the past two years, COVID-19 has impacted nearly every facet of our lives. This includes divorce, custody situations, and other family law matters.
First, we want to reassure everyone that we remain open for any issues you face. We’ve been here and we will continue to be here to help.
We’ve implemented methods of remote communication when necessary or you prefer. 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. We also keep a rigorous cleaning regimen to ensure everyone’s safety.
HOW DOES COVID-19 AFFECT DIVORCE?
COVID-19 has and continues to be an evolving situation in our state and beyond.
There have been significant changes that affect the divorce and family law process. Temporary court closures led to a focus on alternative methods of dispute resolution such as mediation and binding arbitration. These are tools we already used to resolve cases short of trial, but they’ve became even more valuable.
We 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, updated regulations, and new hurdles to clear, the courts remain in service. Some are operating at a limited capacity and dealing with a backlog. As a result, things may take longer than usual, but cases still move forward.
HOW DOES COVID CHANGE THE DIVORCE PROCESS?
One of the biggest roadblocks currently is resolving temporary orders. An overloaded court system is dealing with a glut of cases, which has caused delays in this area. It also affects trials, though there are ways to resolve your divorce without appearing in court.
This serves to highlight the benefit of alternative dispute resolution options, like mediation and binding arbitration. These methods are already proven to be less costly and more efficient ways of resolving case issues before COVID-19 as well as during. In fact, most divorces don’t wind up in court and take one of these, or a similar path.
Related Reading: Mediation Vs Arbitration
CAN YOU START A DIVORCE OR MODIFICATION NOW?
Despite any problems, yes, you can still implement a divorce.
You can proceed with a divorce, settling custody disputes, modifications, and other cases. It may look different, but with the various tools, you can still accomplish your goals.
Related Reading: Why Does DIvorce Take So Long in California?
HOW DOES COVID-19 AFFECT PARENTING PLANS OR CUSTODY ORDERS?
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 issues and strains to contend with. Thanks to COIVD-19, variants, and spikes in cases, things remain in a state of constant flux. School, travel, and more get caught up in this uncertainty. We’ve seen unusual issues arise during this time and deal with them best we can.
It’s important to stick to the program as much as possible. This 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, pandemic or not.
Most of all, it’s important to keep the lines of communication as open as possible.
Related Reading: Why You Need a Parenting Plan
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.
Even when behind on payments, if COVID-19 caused the delay in payment, you still have the right to argue for modification. Even now, you face an uphill battle requesting a change to child support payments.
As always, you must show the impact. Demonstrate how the pandemic led to unforeseen and continuing financial devastation. This may serve as evidence to support your claims. Courts remain reluctant to modify an existing order, so the change must be drasitc. Even then, it may not happen.
Related Reading: How Do You Change A Child Support Order
IF YOU LOSE YOUR JOB, DO YOU STILL HAVE TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT?
The quick answer is: yes.
Absent a proactive modification or adjustment that you would need to initiate, you remain liable for support payments.
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 providing answers to your questions and relevant updates as they come in.
This article will be updated as more information becomes available.
Related Reading: What Is In A Divorce Decree?