divorce and coronavirus covid 19

COVID-19 Affect on Divorce, Support Payments, and Child Custody

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

SKIP AHEAD:
How Does COVID-19 Affect Divorce?
Are Courts Still Open?
Can You File For Divorce?
What Changes Are There in the Divorce Process?
Are Parenting Plans Still Enforceable?
What If You’re Behind On Support Payments?
If You Lose Your Job Due To COVID Can You Get A Support Modification?

Goldberg Jones remains open during the pandemic. 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 DOES COVID-19 AFFECT DIVORCE?

There have already been significant changes that affect family law thanks to COVID-19. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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. We have received many questions from clientele 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 remain in service. They’re operating at a limited capacity and things may take longer than usual, but they are open.

Can You File For Divorce?

Yes, 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.

What Changes Are There In 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.

Are Parenting Plans Enforcable?

The short answer is that there is no change to the enforceability of your current Parenting Plan or Custody Order. But with social distancing, traveling to see your children can become difficult. The same goes for situations where your kids travel to you. Even when together, restrictions can limit activities.

Ultimately, now is a time for both parents to try to work together in addressing the best interests of their children. Fortunately, there are many ways to communicate and connect digitally. Just make sure you don’t overstep any bounds in the parenting plan. It’s still important to play by the rules and avoid any unnecessary tension between you and the other parent.

This gives your kids, and you, something to look forward to. Regular chats also build a routine and help establish a sense of normalcy that often alleviates anxiety. Everyone needs that right now, especially your kids.

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.

If You Lose Your Job Can You Get A Support Modification?

The easy answer is that your current support order is enforceable absent a proactive Modification or Adjustment that you would need to initiate.

The good news is that a significant drop in your finances due to COVID may show the need to modify an existing support agreement. The bad news is that you face an uphill battle.

If both parties are on good terms, you can try to settle outside of court. If that isn’t an option, the next step is to file a motion to modify the support order with the local court.

What Type Of Evidence Is Required?

Timing is important. COVID-19 remains an open-ended battle. Though things keep moving in the right direction, there’s no saying how much longer we will feel its impact.

Presenting evidence makes a big difference. When looking to modify a child support or spousal maintenance order, you have to show your work.

Loss of employment or income due to COVID-19 is the starting point. Document everything, right away. This helps build a stronger case to present to the court. A judge will want to see that this was unintentional and out of your control.

Additionally, take steps to alleviate the loss of income. Seek out other jobs or take advantage of unemployment benefits or emergency relief. Again, track all of your efforts. This demonstrates a good faith effort to find new income.

Review Your existing support order

It’s always a good idea to take a close look at your existing support order. Many divorcing couples settle support obligations outside of court and maintain them by a separation agreement rather than a court order.

These agreements often contain a material change clause.

A material change clause allows you to review payments in the event of a change in circumstances. It may include a protocol for modification requests for situations like the loss of a job. In general, it’s a good idea to be well acquainted with these documents.

Related ReadingChild Custody Modifications

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