CUSTODY AND DIVORCE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS
Family law cases accompany profound life changes. During this COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges of divorce and child custody are being compounded by social distancing, shelter-in-place orders, financial constraints, and health concerns. Courts are closed for non-emergency business and therefore unavailable to hear matters like child custody, visitation, support, and property. Our office continues to assist families in transition, including with disputes arising from the novel Coronavirus:
- Temporary modification of visitation schedules
Reducing the frequency of exchanges in custodial plans, removing short visitation windows (like “dinner visits”) and counterbalancing by extending other visits, vacation time, or make-up time.
- Temporary modification of support
Where either parent’s income is reduced, Parties may agree to a temporary modification “without prejudice” with terms to protect both parents.
- Divorce Paperwork:
Even while Parties remain living under the same roof during this time, their marriage can be dissolved and their legal status returned to “single” by proceeding through the proper steps, completing financial disclosures, and reaching agreement to judgment terms. Our office continues coordinating these dissolutions remotely and our local courthouses are processing paperwork submitted by their “drop-filing” system.
- Communications coaching
Respectful and honest information-sharing between co-parents is critically necessary during this pandemic. We are assisting clients in relational “resets” so they can build rapport to discuss topics including social distancing measures being followed within households and the health of family members. These communications are primarily accomplished in 1:1 coaching but also arise in mediation settings.
It’s worth remembering that family law court systems are of limited value even when fully operational. Orders issued by judges after contested hearings tend to carry the resentment of at least one and sometimes both parties, affecting the compliance and experience of the parties bound.
Our alternative is to design our own orders, which requires compromise and returns a substantial payoff. Each family is different, and when parents collaborate, compromise, and agree to terms for their parenting plan or divorce judgment, their result can be tailored to fit their family. Parties who sign an agreement have “bought-in” and so are better-calibrated to faithfully follow the terms they agreed to than when similar orders are imposed by a judge.
While our courts are frozen, we should endeavor to build agreements to move families in custody and divorce conflicts toward greater stability. The process of dispute resolution in family law can be achieved remotely and respectfully, with communication, cooperation, and kindness, and without having to set foot in a courthouse. Mediating disputes requires the participation of both parties. If agreement is reached, our office prepares a draft agreement that each party can then, prior to signing, review with independent counsel of their choosing to ensure their understanding.
The cost for an initial consultation is $225.00, which allows us to meet by videoconference to talk through your case, our process, and to determine what tasks will be required to move your file toward resolution. Following that appointment, we use the information collected to provide a retainer fee proposal. The amount requested depends on the complexity of each case. Typically, divorce mediations begin at $3,500.00 and less-involved mediations, such as schedule modifications, require a retainer of $1,500.00. We separately offer consultation plans focused on improving communications between co-parents, allowing us to assist by reviewing and discussing your communications with the goal of reducing conflict, increasing effectiveness, and improving dynamics within your family at this time when it’s most-important.
If you’re facing a child custody dispute or divorce and wish to learn more about how we can assist, please
complete the Intake Form available at the top of this page and our staff will be in touch with you.