All joking aside about being shut in our homes with our spouses for weeks, the current “stay at home” order in New Jersey due to the COVID-19 public health emergency raises real and serious issues for marriages that were already frayed or broken before COVID-19 upended all of our lives. The world has not stopped turning and stressful conditions have only made matters in many homes even worse. So what, if anything, can be done in the divorce and family law context?
- You can gather information: We are available to do that consultation that you have been putting off. It can be via video conference or simply over the telephone. You may now have time you didn’t have before to collect the valuable information you need to make the larger decisions that may be coming, and our attorneys can accommodate your schedules and communication abilities through phone, zoom, facetime, and other platforms. Let’s talk it through and perhaps remove some of that anxiety and doubt about the future.
- You can still file for divorce: The courts remain open and can accept filings. Our offices remain open and staffed for the purpose of processing legal paperwork and dealing with the courts. These functions are deemed “essential” to life, and court access is as important now as ever. We can prepare, file, and process your divorce and take all legal steps needed to get your case started. With cases taking an average of 6-9 months to resolve, there is no reason to wait.
- You can still get a restraining order: If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can get a restraining order by calling 9-1-1 or going to the local police. The COVID-19 public health emergency or not, no one must endure domestic violence and options are available to you.
- You can still file your motion: Motions (requests for some relief from the court) are still proceeding, although they are not being argued in person. The courts are getting backlogged, however, so getting your motion filed and “in the pipeline” is a good idea so that when regular hearings resume, you are not unnecessarily delayed. Enforcement of support payments, modifications of support obligations due to job losses, custody and parenting time issues, will all need to be addressed in due course.
- You can negotiate a settlement: Lawyers and litigants are perhaps more available now for settlement conversations and discussions than ever before. Take advantage of the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations and perhaps avoid costly future litigation.
The family law lawyers are here to help and remain committed to seeing everyone through this especially turbulent time.
Drew Molotsky, Esq. is a shareholder and partner at ALBFR&M in Haddonfield, New Jersey. Drew has been exclusively practicing family law for over two decades and has been certified as a Matrimonial Law Attorney by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.