With COVID-19, you and your attorney dealing with your family law matters are now facing unsettled and unprecedented issues.
The following are some tips for dealing with family law issues related to the COVID 19 pandemic:
PARENTING TIME ISSUES
It is very difficult to determine how to handle your custody matter when your children are home from school and you and the other parent working remotely, not to mention the need for quarantines and to protect vulnerable family members. Custody agreements and orders must be followed. It sounds obvious, but you must keep lines of communication open especially regarding any health issues that their children are having or whether anyone in their respective homes is testing positive for COVID-19.
You and the other parent have a duty to assure that your children’s school assignments are being completed so there is consistency in learning.
If you lost your job, have been furloughed, or are unable to work, you are rightfully concerned about your financial obligations to a spouse or former spouse. Please know that as your attorney I am aware of that situation and will be able to address that matter with the other attorney or if need be a judge.
Hopefully, the changes you face will be in the short term. Moreover, alimony and child support obligations can be modified in your financial circumstances have truly deteriorated. Some financial obligations may not be modifiable and must be made in accordance with an order or agreement.
ISSUES WITH ACCESS TO COURTS
I know that you were assured by knowing that you could seek relief in court if need be. Courts, however, are significantly affected by the current landscape and most matters have been rescheduled or indefinitely postponed. I hope that any current court closures will be short lived and when the courts reopen, they will do their best to get matters rescheduled as quickly as possible. We were encouraged just today to get guidance from the Courts in dealing with emergent matters.
Given the uncertainty of access to courts now, I am recommending clients consider mediators and arbitrators who are using remote technology.
Dealing with a family law issue, whether it be divorce, custody, or support, becomes that much more difficult in the face of a pandemic that has abruptly changed your social, personal, and economic life. But we will get through it, and we will be stronger for it.
Ronald Lieberman, Esq. is a shareholder and partner at Adinolfi, Lieberman, Burick, Falkenstein, Roberto & Molotsky, PA in Haddonfield, New Jersey. He is certified as a Matrimonial Law Attorney by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.