The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has upset just about every area of personal and professional life for everyone in the country. Many of our family law clients are concerned about how the business and court shutdowns, damage to the economy, and quarantine orders are likely to affect their divorce proceedings as well as issues they face after the finalization of the divorce. Continue reading for a discussion of ways in which the coronavirus pandemic may affect your divorce, and call a knowledgeable Englewood divorce lawyer for help with a New Jersey family law matter.
Considerations for Pending Divorces
If your divorce is ongoing, the coronavirus pandemic has likely caused significant delays and uncertainties. Courts in New Jersey have been closed indefinitely for in-person proceedings, although they have been moving to remote appearances using telephone and videoconferencing technology. It is likely that your matter will continue, after some delays, and those appearances will take place remotely for the time being.
Additionally, as we have discussed, the coronavirus has likely affected the economics of your divorce. The value of your home and other real property may have been affected. You and your spouse may have experienced a significant change in income, necessitating a recalculation of child support and alimony obligations. Assets such as stocks and business owners may have changed in value, and you will likely need to recalculate asset values in order to distribute marital property equitably. Speak with your divorce attorney about your ongoing case to discuss whether and how your divorce proceeding will continue, or rehash issues already visited, in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Post-Divorce Complications: Child Support, Alimony, and Child Custody
Divorces are, of course, the gift that keeps on giving. If you have been divorced, you may be subject to a child support or alimony (spousal support) arrangement. Child support and alimony payments are subject to modification should either party experience an unexpected and impactful “change in circumstances” that significantly affects their financial wellbeing. Support obligations can be modified to reduce or eliminate payments if a payor is no longer able to meet their current obligation because of unexpected expenses, a loss of income, or retirement. The recipient of child support or alimony may also seek to increase payments when they experience a change that causes them financial hardship, such as medical expenses for themselves or their children, or a loss of income.
Whether you are the recipient of support or the payor, if the coronavirus pandemic has caused you to lose your job, reduce your business income, or take a pay cut, you may be able to petition the court for modification of the support obligation. Court proceedings are carrying on, even if they are conducted remotely via telephone or video conference, and your attorney is likely still working from home even if their office is closed. Call your support modification attorney to find out if you may be eligible for modification.
Additionally, child custody arrangements may need to be modified in light of the coronavirus. If you, your spouse, or your children have contracted or become exposed to the novel coronavirus, you may need to seek a modification of your child custody or visitation to protect the health of you, your co-parent, or your children. Travel restrictions may make visitation impracticable for the time being. It is important to go through the proper channels when modifying any custody or visitation arrangement.
Discuss the matter with your co-parent and, if possible, come to a mutual agreement about how to proceed for the time being. If you cannot agree, you will need to petition the court for a modification. Courts are open to making temporary alterations to custody and visitation in light of medical emergencies or practical considerations (such as the inability to travel). Talk to your child custody and visitation attorney about your circumstances and your options for change.
Get Advice and Representation With Divorce-Related Issues from Experienced New Jersey Family Law Attorneys
If you’re considering divorce in New Jersey or facing property division, child support, alimony, child custody, or other family law issues, contact the Englewood family law attorneys Herbert & Weiss at (505) 405-4441.