The Impact of COVID-19 Quarantine on Co-Parenting and Honoring the Terms of the Divorce Agreement
Experienced Divorce Attorney Advising Clients in Garwood, Elizabeth, Rahway, Clark, Roselle, and throughout Union County, Essex County, and northern Middlesex County.
Separating or getting divorced from your partner is terrible enough. Facing an unknown period of social isolation is almost unthinkable. During this coronavirus crisis unmarried parents, couples who have separated, had their civil union dissolved, or are divorced have struggled to find proper seeking guidance when trying to enforce child custody arrangements or even manage the financial aspects of child support and spousal support payments. Those that wish to honor judicial orders, not violate a custody agreement and not risk a contempt of court claim, or the implication of parental alienation, may fear their child could potentially get infected by either the other parent who may not be practicing social-distancing or someone within that parent’s circle of friends. For some of these parents, even playdates with families your co-parent could have known for quite some time is unthinkable.
Reasonable people can reach very different conclusions about the safety of child exchanges and visitation in these uncertain times and unprecedented legal situations. With no official guidance or recommendations on how to proceed and which measure to take to assure that the child’s best interests are considered, even what would have been a minor issue in the past can lead to additional significant problems in an already emotional distraught relationship between parents who struggle communicating and maintaining civility.
What if I Can’t Pay My Child or Alimony Support Payments?
In light of the lockdown orders and delay most businesses will experience in terms of reopening, it’s quite likely that parents won’t be able to pay their child support and will request to temporarily modify their child support and modify alimony support payments.
Our child support and divorce attorney will identify the avenues for modifying child support agreements for parents in New Jersey. Call our office today to learn more about how our firm may be able to serve your child support, child custody, divorce, or any other family law needs.
We are also keeping abreast of changing developments with the Courts and can arrange a safe, secure, confidential, and convenient virtual consultation utilizing technology such as Skype, Zoom or Google Hangouts to support your legal needs.
7 Guidelines for Separated or Divorced Parents Sharing Child Custody During the COVID19 Pandemic
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) have released guidelines on how to minimize, as much as possible, added stress on children of divorce. Here is a summary:
BE HEALTHY/BE INFORMED
Comply with all CDC and local and NJ state COVID-19 guidelines and model good behavior for your children with intensive hand washing, wiping down surfaces and other objects that are frequently touched, and maintaining social distancing.
Be honest about the seriousness of the pandemic but maintain a calm attitude. Avoid making careless comments in front of the children and exposing them to endless media coverage intended for adults. Encourage your children to ask questions and express their concerns and answer them truthfully at a level that is age-appropriate.
with court orders and custody agreements. The custody agreement or court order exists to prevent endless haggling over the details of timesharing. In some jurisdictions, there are even standing orders mandating that, if schools are closed, custody agreements should remain in force as though school was still in session.
Some parents will have to work extra hours to help deal with the crisis and other parents may be out of work or working reduced hours for a time. Plans will inevitably have to change. Learn to be virtual. Encourage closeness with the parent who is not going to see the child through shared books, movies, games, and FaceTime or Skype.
Provide honest information to your co-parent about any suspected or confirmed exposure to the virus, and try to agree on what steps each of you will take to protect the child from exposure. Certainly, both parents should be informed at once if the child is exhibiting any possible symptoms of the virus.
Try to provide makeup time to the parent who missed out, if at all possible. Family law judges expect reasonable accommodations when they can be made and will take serious concerns raised in later filings about parents who are inflexible in highly unusual circumstances.
There is no doubt that the pandemic will pose an economic hardship and lead to lost earnings for many, many parents, both those who are paying child support and those who are receiving child support. The parent who is paying should try to provide something, even if it can’t be the full amount. The parent who is receiving payments should try to be accommodating under these challenging and temporary circumstances.
Contact a Union County NJ Family Lawyer for Immediate Assistance
Challenges like these can be an opportunity for parents to come together and focus on what is best for the child.
Highly sensitive family situations can be emotionally taxing and require experienced legal assistance. With the assistance of a seasoned family lawyer, you can move forward with confidence. For nearly 25 years, Attorney Edward S. Cooper has helped families through every step of their divorce and family law matters. Enlisting his services means that you can count on the open-ended communication and personalized service that he never fails to provide.