Navigating new social practices and other changes brought on by COVID-19 has been challenging for everyone. Yet dealing with such adjustments can be made even more difficult for those in the midst of family-law related issues such as custody battles, divorce proceedings, and child support dilemmas.
Although the state has disbanded its stay at home order, courts are operating on a limited basis. The Georgia Supreme Court instituted an extended emergency order imposing local courts to suspend all but essential services and only address critical court functions until June 12th. As the state’s court system works toward plans of reopening with modified procedures to adhere to health and safety concerns, there are some updates in regards to how the Coronavirus will impact family law matters.
The issue of custody during self-isolation has raised many questions for parents. While quarantine rules urge people to stay in one household, those who share joint custody may find this difficult. Legally, these custody schedules are not impacted by stay-at-home orders and are expected to continue as previously planned, whether under court orders or mutual agreement.
If health or safety becomes an issue, custody schedules may need to be modified so that they uphold the best interests of the children. If there are adjustments to the original custody agreement, it is recommended that parents put these agreed upon changes in writing and save copies of correspondence in case it is needed in the future. As the situation remains uncertain, local courts encourage parents to cooperate and to be flexible when possible, as the welfare of the children remains the utmost priority.
Many families rely on spousal and child support, both of which may have been interrupted due to the economic hardships caused by the Coronavirus. While you are still expected to pay child support during these times, if you have suffered a reduction in income or loss of a job due to the pandemic, you may want to file a motion with the court to modify your child support obligations. While the case may not be immediately heard by the courts, it may be beneficial if your economic situation is expected to continue indefinitely.
If possible, it may be beneficial to work out a payment plan or alternative arrangement regarding spousal or child support with the other parent. While courts are suspending non-essential matters, seeking legal counsel to create a temporary plan for receiving or paying support may be useful for both parties involved.
While court proceedings are slowed during this time of adjustment, you can still file for divorce. The process may be delayed, but it is still possible to obtain and finalize a divorce at this time. Contact a local family law attorney for more information on filing for divorce during this period of limited court openings.
Courts across the state of Georgia are remaining open and operating for any issues related to child protective services, domestic violence, and other threatening situations. If you have questions about emerging filings and what scenarios this may include, contact our team today.
Additionally, the Atlanta Divorce Law Group will continue to remain open as we work remotely to abide by health and safety measures. If you have any questions or concerns on how COVID-19 may impact your family law matter, do not hesitate to reach out to our intake team today.