There are many sad realities that we are all dealing with during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. At this point, most of us know someone or know of someone who had contracted the virus and lost the battle. The numbers of people getting sick and passing are frightening to many people.
The primary reason for social distancing and staying at home is not to overwhelm the hospitals and healthcare workers who have been working around the clock. These doctors, nurses, and everyone in the field are putting themselves in harms way to heal the sick and ease the suffering of those who have contracted the virus as well as those loved ones who cannot visit family members who have been hospitalized.
Many issues have been reported due to isolation
In recent posts, we have discussed other issues related to social distancing, such as the rise in spousal and child abuse, and the loss of parenting time for non-custodial parents.
Social distancing and shutting down all non-essential services have had many unintended consequences, such as people losing their jobs or being furloughed for the duration of the pandemic. People have lost their income, and in many cases, their health insurance.
For divorced parents, social distancing is also causing other issues, such as lost parenting time. For those that have lost their jobs, there are also issues with paying their child support.
Job Loss and Child Support
The issue is that even if you have lost your job, you still must pay your child support. It is a legal requirement that you cannot avoid. Even the legal process of bankruptcy does not remove the requirement of paying child support.
In normal times, if you lose a job or your financial situation changes, you can petition the courts for a modification to your payments so they are more in line with what your income levels are. We are currently living through times that are anything but normal, and we have no idea how much longer this is going to continue.
With the courts closed, except for emergencies, there is no guarantee that the courts will be able to act on your request for modification promptly. That does not mean that you should not file the proper court motion to modify your support to preserve the option of the Court to modify the support effectively on the date the motion is filed.
Document Everything You Do
If you have been laid off, you will need to show documentation that your loss of work was not voluntary, and that you are working to find new employment.
During this time, finding new employment can be challenging, so you should document everything you have been doing during this period, including things related to work, such as taking additional online training.
Working Out a Temporary Solution with Your Ex is a Possibility
If your circumstances have changed, you should inform your ex-spouse. You may also decide on a temporary agreement until this crisis is over, especially if you have been furloughed as opposed to laid-off. If your relationship with your ex is not such that you can have this discussion, your best bet is to call our office and discuss the issue with an experienced and certified family law specialist.
Remember that while you can work with your ex to come up with an agreeable support plan, the safety and well-being of the child cannot be compromised. Also, the new agreement would have to be accepted by a family court judge and made into a court order. Even though child support would then be an amount you have agreed to, it does become a legal requirement. Just because you negotiated the amount without the courts, it does not mean the payments are optional or can be stopped at any time.
Call TDC Family Law for a Consultation
If you have any questions about child support payments or any family law concerns during this uncertain time, call Tracy Duell-Cazes at TDC Family Law for a consultation.
Rise in Cases of Abuse
For many people, these last few weeks have been unprecedented. Many of us are working from home and our children are doing their schoolwork from home. Unfortunately, many people have lost their jobs, or the work has just stopped coming in. People are spending all their time at home with no ability to go out to lunch or the gym, or even to grab a cup of coffee.
We discussed how social distancing is creating many unintended issues for divorced couples with children. Visitation, or parenting time is being missed to maintain social distancing. Our last blog had some ideas of how to overcome these issues during this time.
Most people are taking the stay-at-home orders in stride. They are creating routines to get their work done and take care of their kids and make the situation bearable, and even fun. For some people, this is an extremely tough time and the stress of the situation is growing daily. For couples or families that have serious issues, being together all day and night can make matters worse. Instances of abuse are being reported and the longer we must maintain this level of social distancing, the harder it will be on some people.
Courts Still Open for Emergencies
While the courts are closed for non-emergency matters, serious issues are still being addressed by the courts. If you or your children are in danger due to being at home with an abusive spouse or parent, there are things that can be done. Abuse and neglect are never acceptable and should never be tolerated.
For many people and children, going to work or school is the only respite they have from domestic violence. Now that schools are closed and most people are working from home, that respite is now gone. The pandemic is also a new way for the abuser to gain even more control by scaring them from even going outside for a few minutes.
Resources are Available
It is important for people to know that there are resources out there for them, even while they are in isolation. There are organizations like the National Organization of Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. This and other organizations like this can also be found online if a person is afraid to use a phone and be heard. The good thing about this organization’s website, is that there is an escape button that takes them away from the page and erases all clues, such as from history and cookies, that the website had ever been visited.
These organizations provide a safety plan for people to teach how to respond to different types of abuse and scare tactics and how to get to safety if they feel they are in physical danger.
An abuser is going to lie to control their victims. They might tell them there is not use in calling the police since they are busy dealing with the Coronavirus. They will say that there are no cops left to come to save them because they are all getting sick themselves. Most people may be at home, but essential workers are still out there. The police are still available, there are social workers and organizations that help abuse victims are still working. The courts are still dealing with criminal matters and in family court, emergency cases are still being dealt with.
There are ways out and ways to stay safe during this time. Stay strong, stay safe, and have a plan.