UPDATED: With the arrival of a new round of stay-at-home/shelter-in-place orders, it’s a good time to revisit the ways COVID-19 has and continues to impact family law.
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.
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.
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.
This is a strange time for everyone, but we’re still here to do what we can to guide you through as best we can.
ORIGINAL POST: Goldberg Jones remains open during the COVID-19 outbreak. We understand that our services are essential to our clients during this uncertain time. 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 our remote communication technology.
HOW WILL COVID-19 AFFECT DIVORCE?
In the last few weeks, 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 that we want to share in the form of an FAQ below:
WHAT WILL CHANGE ABOUT 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 I START A DIVORCE OR MODIFICATION NOW?
Yes, the courts are allowing case filing to initiate a case in the time of coronavirus. 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 MY 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. Ultimately, now is a time for both parents to try to work together in addressing the best interests of their children.
WHAT IF I LOSE MY JOB, DO I 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 in the days and weeks ahead. 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.