Greenspoon Marder Client Alert: Navigating Family Law Issues In The Wake Of COVID-19
Mar 27, 2020
Fort Lauderdale, FL
The world as we knew it has changed. Going through a divorce, or attending to post-divorce child-related issues presents challenges and stressors under normal circumstances. Dealing with these issues as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, amidst considerable uncertainty and fear, may seem like too much to overcome.
Our team of Family Law professionals at Greenspoon Marder LLP is here to support and guide you through these trying times, to navigate the host of financial and child-related issues that may arise during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We offer the following set of recommendations/guidelines to help our clients navigate these divorce and child-related issues during this difficult time:
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts released joint guidelines for separated parents with Seven Guidelines to follow during this crisis. Their first guideline was to
Be Safe. Above all, parents must ensure their own safety and the safety of their children, meaning following all CDC and State guidelines put in place to “flatten the curve.” Follow court orders. Provided it is safe to do so, it is important to continue to abide by existing court orders if you have one, both financial and child-related. Many states have specifically delineated as “essential travel” travel relating to adherence to court orders including the transport of children pursuant to parenting agreements.
While important to abide by court orders, it is equally important to be flexible in terms of parenting exchanges during a time where schools are closed, and many parents are working from home. While the majority of parenting exchanges occur either at pick-up or drop-off at school, this is no longer possible in many jurisdictions where schools have been closed indefinitely. Many parents, in order to minimize exchanges of the children, have converted to a “week on week off” schedule. This minimizes the transitions of the children between parents, which for some, minimizes conflict, but more importantly, keeps the children indoors and away from public places where they could be potentially exposed to the virus.
As reported by the Department of Labor recently, a record 3.3 million Americans sought unemployment benefits during the week of March 15
th. As many of those individuals likely have court-ordered child and spousal support obligations, it is important to remain as current as possible during periods of unemployment. In many jurisdictions, the courts remain open only for emergencies, which most likely does not include downward modification applications. It is important for the payor to continue to make payments as much as possible in good faith. On the flip-side, if you are the payee recipient, it is important to be understanding to any such economic hardship. For people just starting down the path of divorce, who do not yet have court orders to enforce regarding custody or support, it may well be a while before the courts are available to issue an order. This should not be an excuse to withhold support or access to the other parent. This is an excellent time to try to reach a negotiated agreement that works for everyone and avoid expensive litigation. Remember that you cooperation or bad acts now can and will be a factor considered by the court later.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. For separated parents, it is important to over-communicate during this time, where circumstances outside our windows are quite literally changing minute by minute. It is equally important to be flexible and always put the best interests of the children first.
Obviously, the above guidelines provide merely a roadmap to navigate the current pandemic. For any other questions, the Family Law professionals at Greenspoon Marder LLP can answer them. Please reach out to
email@example.com to schedule a Zoom Meeting with one of our Family Law attorneys. Stay safe and healthy.
About Greenspoon Marder
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American Lawyer’s Am Law 200, as one of the top law firms in the U.S. since 2015. Since our inception in 1981, our firm has been committed to providing excellent client service through our cross-disciplinary, client-team approach. Our mission is to understand the challenges that our clients face, build collaborative relationships, and craft creative solutions designed and executed with long-term strategic goals in mind. We serve Fortune 500, middle-market public and private companies, start-ups, emerging businesses, individuals and entrepreneurs nationwide.
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This Greenspoon Marder LLP Client Alert is issued for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed or used as general legal advice nor a solicitation of any type. Please contact the author(s) or your Greenspoon Marder LLP contact if you have any questions regarding the currency of this information. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision. Before you decide, ask for written information about the lawyer’s legal qualifications and experience.