What to Do?  Your Family Law Cases During the Pandemic

Lyons Gaddis COVID-19 Alert

This Alert is one in a collection of articles created by Lyons Gaddis in our effort to get important information to our clients regarding the effect of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the United States.  This Alert focuses on family law issues and the challenges presented by shelter in place orders, court shutdowns and the looming financial crisis.

March 25, 2020
What to Do?  Your Family Law Cases During the Pandemic
John W. Gaddis, Shareholder

Incredibly difficult family law issues are even more complicated during these days of quarantines, court closures, and home “on-line” learning. Here are some thoughts and suggestions on how to deal with this unusual time from a family law perspective:

  • Cooperate. If there was ever a time to seek common ground on parenting and money issues, this is the time. Talk to the other parent and really listen. See how the two of you are doing, how the children are doing, and how you can cooperate to get through the next weeks and months.
  • Children First. In these uncertain times, there is good reason to be introspective and concerned about survival. But the most vulnerable are the children and their needs, for their safety and security comes first. Work with the other parent to make sure their exposure to the virus is limited.
  • Share Technology. Since the children are attending school on-line, help make sure they have access to sufficient technology. For example, if there is only one good computer between the two parents, it will be necessary to share it so the children can continue with their education. If one parent is the techie, then she/he needs to help the other parent with using technology.
  • Money? These are scary times with furloughs and layoffs everywhere. There may be significant changes to each party’s income. The best approach is to provide updated information to the other party, recalculate child support and maintenance based upon the changed circumstances on a temporary basis, with an agreement that support revert to Court Ordered levels once the quarantine ends. Any such agreement should be reduced to writing and filed with the Court as a temporary modification.
  • Taxes. Tax filings and payments have been pushed back to July 15, 2020. If there is a provision in your agreement regarding filing a joint return, talk to the other party about when you collectively want to file.
  • Court Proceedings. Most family law cases have been put on hold by the courts. BUT if you have an emergency situation – particularly with domestic violence – the court will address your issues, so do NOT put off seeking help in those situations. In non- emergency situations, see if you can continue your case by scheduling mediation in the interim. Mediation can be done by video means, if necessary.

Somehow in times of crisis, it allows the “chaff to be winnowed,” and the parties can address the important family issues more directly/clearly. Take advantage of this.

Attorneys in the Family Law Group at Lyons Gaddis are available to advise you in relation to your family law matter other COVID-19 related matters impacting you and your children.  If you need help in these times with family law issues, our firm is here to talk and counsel you. John Gaddis and Jeff Rose are here for you. Stay safe.