There are many moving parts and potential complications in any family law matter. But with the current pandemic facing the world right now, we have experienced an influx of questions and problems from our clients and contacts. The following will address a few of these issues.
Current State of the Court System
As of this writing, the court system is still operational and functioning to move divorce and other family court matters forward. We are seeing a trend by courts in general, and with individual judges in administrating their own courtrooms, towards postponing non-essential hearings and/or to allow for telephonic appearances. Current court notices indicate an intent to not postpone hearings on urgent matters like requests for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders, or the civil court equivalent, a request for a Civil Harassment Restraining Order. For those with complicated business issues and other problems which might impact their divorce, but are out of the jurisdiction of family court, Civil Courts are also open at this point. However, there is a stronger push in civil courts for telephonic hearings. Our attorneys are experienced and available to assist our clients with questions or current matters in both courts. You can find up-to-date information about the court system during the Covid-19 crisis here: https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/coronavirus-updates#.XmpgigwvdB4.twitter and at http://ocbar.org/covid-19
Covid-19 Contingency Plans
What is the best course of action for handling custody issues if one or more children, parents, or members of either household gets sick with the virus? It is best to plan with the other parent now. Plans should be developed in the event that a child becomes ill, but other family members are not yet affected, and/or where the child does not get ill, but another member of that household does become ill. Consideration should be given to whether high risk individuals (like the elderly, immunocompromised individuals, and chronic smokers) in a particular household, and/or whether any members of the household necessarily are in regular contact with such high-risk individuals. Current data indicates that a party exposed to the virus can spread the disease for a several days or longer before that person even starts to feel symptoms.
Further consideration should be given to the fact that current medical research indicates that children are not likely to get ill from the Coronavirus, but at the same time can be carriers of it, exposing it to other members in the household. Thus, there is no one solution that fits all families. Your contingency plans should consider the unique circumstances of your and the other parent’s household. Information regarding how to prepare for the Coronavirus may be found at the Center for Disease Control website. (See https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html) You may consider discussing your unique facts and circumstances with your family law attorney for suggestions.
For those with questions about a current matter or potential marital dissolution or paternity claim, at Buncher Family Law, we are open and available to meet with you in-person but also telephonically or through electronic virtual meetings. At times of increased family stress, such as the current health crisis, families and individual spouses may have questions about their family law matters. We understand how stress can impact all aspects of a divorce from financial to custody to separation.
Please know we are here to help and answer any questions you may have.