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Family Law and COVID-19

COVID-19 and Family Law

Topics surrounding Family Law and COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE | TIME SHARING | DIVORCE | MODIFICATIONS | CHILD SUPPORT | PATERNITY

While many of us are trapped in our homes with our family, others are being kept from their children.   Some are trapped in abusive or unfriendly relationships and still others are in danger of losing their drivers license or even being imprisoned for failing to pay child support.

In these uncertain times, I am taking the time to answer some of your questions and to let you know that my office is open, we are meeting with clients in person for urgent matters, over the telephone if needed or via Zoom if that is most comfortable for you.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Under no circumstances should anyone be subjected to physical, emotional or mental abuse.  The State of Florida and the courts are still available to help.  Never hesitate to dial 9-11 should you be in danger or need police assistance.  Your safety and your life are always of primary importance.

Court’s in Florida are entering Orders of Protection Against Domestic Violence.   We can file your petition from our office and send the pleadings onward toward the Judge who can enter the Order to protect you.  This protection includes, removal of the abuser from your presence, including removing the abuser from the home, whether he or she is the homeowner or not.

This protection extends to the children of the household.  You will not be leaving your children behind.  The Court can set up time sharing, child support and even temporary alimony to ensure that you will be safe and secure not matter what.

The fear of the virus and the uncertainty that comes with it should never prevent you from protecting yourself and your children from an abuser.   By waiting to file an injunction, you could be missing an opportunity for the Order to be entered.  Among the factors the Judge considers is the timeliness of your petition for protection Our firm is here for you.   Please call us so we can help you make these decisions from a position of knowledge and not fear.

TIME SHARING

Covid-19 has created a new problem for parents who are separated and required to co-parent.  The first question that all parents should consider is “What is in the best interest of my child?”

Our office has already received multiple calls from concerned parents who now must consider new issues such as:

  • Home Schooling – Home schooling creates its own complications for parents.  Some parents are more able or more patient with assisting the children during home schooling.  Most children cannot be left to their resources to login to school, stay on task, complete assignments and understand the lessons.  Further, not all parents have the computer and internet capabilities to permit the child to continue schooling.  How should parents decide what to do?  Cooperating parents can discuss and implement their own parenting schedule.  Those who cannot cooperate are left to their own devices.  There is no single solution or single answer to these questions.  Call our firm and we will listen to you and guide you to that answer.   Certainly, parents should ALWAYS use the guideline, what action can be taken that would be my child’s best interest.
  • Lack of Daycare Facilities – Not every person is stuck at home during this crisis.  Some are still working outside the home and left without daycare.  What happens in this scenario is up to you.  In Florida, co-parenting and shared parental responsibility means that you should be working together to make certain that your child is safe and cared for no matter what the complication. If the parents can’t agree our law firm can help.  We will listen to you and advise you of your options under the law and keep your focus on what is best for your child.  In our office your children are always the guiding principle behind our advise and our vision of the law.
  • Travel for time sharing during COVID-19 – With restrictions in place due to the spread of Coronavirus, parents need to consider how time sharing can take place.  Nothing is more important than the relationship between a parent and child except for the health and safety of the child herself.  Parents should consider the child’s health and safety when deciding how to engage in time sharing.   Some time sharing requires air-travel while other can be nothing more than a 10-minute car ride.  Obviously, airline travel is much more concerning, while a short car ride exposes the child to much less.  However, what about time sharing when the other parent lives with someone who is vulnerable to the virus like a grandparent or other person with a compromised immune system.

Some parents are facing situations where a parent lives in a more infected community, the child’s safety may be at issue or the child could become a danger to a vulnerable person. In those scenarios, parents should work together can resolve these issues, but it is naïve to think that people who are divorced or broken up can reach agreements.  Our office can listen and advise you on how to work a solution or position yourself to avoid a future contempt hearing or to be the person with the high ground if a contempt hearing is inevitable.

DIVORCE

This is an opportunity to resolve your case without Court intervention.  I have heard other attorneys complaining that “courts are closed!”  It is true that some things can’t move forward, but most of those stalemates involve cases with the department of revenue and child support.  Cases with private attorneys can move forward and should.  The best attorneys use the courtroom shutdown to get clients to focus on their real goals and real outcomes so that a settlement can be negotiated or reached a mediation.  Discovery can still be conducted and now is the best time to gather paperwork and meet in person, over the phone or via video to learn the most about your case and impower you.

Just because the courtrooms are closed doesn’t mean divorces cannot begin.  Once the divorce is filed, a marker is placed on debt and income.  It becomes much more difficult for one person to be saddled with the other person’s debts after filing.  In this time of crisis, the best solutions are more important than ever.   Contact our office.  My obligation to you is to give you the best advice and steer you through this situation.

MODIFICATIONS- CHILD SUPPORT, TIME SHARING AND ALIMONY

If your divorce or paternity action has been finalized, your time-sharing and financial situation may have changed in a real and substantial way. What that means is that this is one of the few opportunities that may arise to convince a Court to change how you and the other parent relate regarding your child and even may change an order of Alimony.  In times of change such as these, change itself to your life is inevitable.

Things that a parent may note for a change could be things such as:

  • Lack of communication regarding the health of the child
  • Lack of communication regarding schooling
  • Refusal of time sharing
  • Unreasonable demands of time sharing
  • Secreting the child
  • Loss of income
  • Increase of income.

If you are a person who has suffered a loss of income and cannot afford to pay child support your drivers license may be at risk.  You could be subjected to accumulating child support arrears.  NOW is the time to act.  Our office can prepare and file the required pleadings to make certain that your license remains intact. We can make certain that you are not buried in arrears for child support or alimony.  If you wait, that relief might not be available.

Now may be the best time or even the ONLY time to file for this type of relief.  The timing of the filing will mark the starting point for any change that can be ordered.    Now is best time to begin the plan on how to get the court to Order the changes that you want.  Our office can help.  We will take the time to talk and listen. We will make you a part of the plan and empower you to feel safe, secure and hopeful during this time when many feel out of control.  Call our office now. We are open and here to help!

PATERNITY

A father who has not had paternity ordered by the court has no real rights over the child.  Those rights include time sharing, parental responsibility and child support (receiving or paying).

For some, Mom might now be withholding time sharing as there is no court order for the Father to see the child, for others, child support may be accumulating and becoming a debilitating burden.  By filing an action now, you can begin the process of obtaining those rights and correcting child support.   Even with the current shutdown of much of the courthouse, we can under the right circumstances, establish a Father within the bounds of the law and create access to your child.

By beginning this process now, you can save yourself the heartache of missing your child and protect yourself from unfair child support obligations that have arisen from a loss of income due to the crisis.  We care, we listen, and we take action for you.

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Port St. Lucie 8495 S. FEDERAL HWY.
PORT ST. LUCIE, FL 34952
Stuart By Appointment Only 27 SE Ocean Blvd
Stuart, FL 34994
Fort Pierce By Appointment Only 311 S 2nd St., Suite 102b
Fort Pierce, FL 34950
Telephone: 772-466-0707 Fax: 772-223-9290 or 772-466-0907 Office Hours: 8:30 to 5:00pm M-F
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