Implications of COVID-19 on Divorce and Other Family Law Matters

Unhappy couple

These recent months have been a challenge for us all as we endure a global pandemic and try to adjust to a new normal. Orders to shelter in place are frightening enough, and adding to that, many families are dealing with additional problems exacerbated by the current health crisis. Couples are going through divorces, there are new co-parenting issues, some people can’t pay support orders, and domestic violence instances are increasing.

While there’s been an outpouring of information to help people understand what’s going on, it’s also led to a lot of confusion and uncertainty. As always, we at Schweitzer Law Partners are committed to protecting you and your family. If you are going through something like this, we are here to help you navigate your family matter.

Divorce During COVID-19

Many couples are spending an unprecedented amount of time together, and it hasn’t been easy on their relationship. Cities in China have already reported record-high numbers of divorce filings after lockdowns were lifted, leading to long backlogs at government offices. For many, the pandemic exposed poor communication, and their trivial conflict escalated. This may be a good indicator of where we will be in the near future.

If you and your spouse have decided to end the marriage, it would be wise to begin the divorce process now rather than waiting for things to return to “normal.” When courts reopen, docket schedules will be full, and you’ll want to avoid further prolonging your divorce. This is also an excellent time to explore mediation, a cost-effective solution to divorce. During mediation, a neutral third party will help spouses reach agreements on divorce issues. Whether you have a contested or uncontested divorce, our attorneys can help you prepare your case so that it’s ready in a timely manner.

Stay at Home Orders Affecting Custodial Exchanges

One of the most-asked questions we’ve received is about parenting time or custodial exchanges in light of the governor’s Stay at Home mandate. Both parents must continue to follow their current child custody arrangement, as violating the order could result in contempt of court. While we advise against withholding visitation, you should continue to communicate and collaborate with the other parent.

Modifying Child Support Due to COVID-19

Aside from immediate health concerns, the current economic state is a major cause of worry. Millions of people have had to file for unemployment, and you may fall under this category too. California has created a hub of resources where you can find information on testing, financial help, and more. Additionally, there is federal aid to help citizens during this time. If you’ve suffered a financial hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak, you should explore those options so that you can pay child support.

If you are still struggling to afford child support, do not just stop making payments. This could lead to serious consequences such as contempt of court, jail time, and other enforcement actions. However, you may be able to make modifications to your child support order. First, speak with your ex about the situation and try to find an agreeable solution. If you can’t agree, then you’ll need to file a motion with the court. Keep in mind that many courts are closed, but this is an ever-changing situation, and orders can change overnight. Rest assured, we will continue to keep our clients updated to any amended orders.

We’re Here to Help Protect Your Family

In these trying times, it’s crucial for families dealing with legal issues to have the right counsel by their side. We want to assure all of our clients that our commitment to providing our clients with a level of excellence remains unchanged.

Schedule a free virtual consultation by contacting us today at (626) 788-5225.