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How Is COVID-19 Affecting Family Law in California?

There’s no exaggeration in saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every part of society, including legal proceedings. 

California’s stay-at-home order has put a halt on many things, but it’s still possible to get a divorce and address family law related legal issues during these unprecedented times. Here’s how California family law has been affected during the coronavirus pandemic.

Understand How Courts Have Been Affected

While the California court system is still operating during the pandemic, you should anticipate everything from delays and closures to impact your proceedings. You and your legal counsel should expect continuances as courts close down for extended periods as virus cases continue to surge. 

Depending on the situation, hearings may occur by teleconference, but you shouldn’t expect them. Instead, accept from the start that courts are operating at a slower capacity, and it will take longer than usual to process your case. In instances where you will be able to visit the court physically, you can expect increased protective measures to be in place. 

Child Support Terms Remain In Effect

If you’re already divorced and paying child support, you should know that the pandemic has not changed this obligation. You can always make changes to the agreement, but it requires court approval to be official and legally recognized. 

A simple verbal agreement between you and your former spouse will not suffice and could open you to legal issues in the future. Despite the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding financial security many of us face, you need to consult with a family law attorney if you intend to change your payment agreement.

Visitation and Custody Complications

All current child custody orders remain in place. Understandably, this has raised concern with parents, especially when lengthy travel is required. However, that isn’t a justification for violating a court order. 

Instead, if you feel the custody agreement’s current terms put your child in danger due to potential exposure, make arrangements with the other parent that you can agree to. 

If you can’t come to agreeable terms, or if you feel that the other parent is being irresponsible by not taking proper health precautions, consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to resolve the issue legally. Remember, when it comes to custody-related matters, the courts have to act in the child’s best interest first.    

If A Parent Gets Infected with COVID-19

Suppose you or your former partner have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are showing symptoms. In that case, it’s advisable to make temporary arrangements to keep the child with the healthy party for the illness’s duration. 

Again, the parents can agree to this without having to go to court. However, in situations where co-parenting is difficult or even hostile, it may become an issue for the courts. The fact that a court order requires a parent to have custody of a child for a set amount of time doesn’t supersede the danger of potentially passing on infection onto the child. 

Courts will always look at the issue of a child’s safety in such matters first and foremost. While it’s usually advisable to pursue every path to resolution with custody disputes before involving legal procedures, a child’s welfare is not such a situation. If you have reason to believe the other parent has put your child’s health at risk, contact a lawyer right away.

Let Hann Law Firm Represent You

Getting started with a divorce or legal separation can be challenging. As the process moves along, it is essential to have a knowledgeable, experienced attorney at your side. Hann Law Firm is here to guide you during this difficult time. 

At Hann Law Firm, we understand the struggle. We will do everything we can to make these circumstances as streamlined and pain-free as possible. Whatever that looks like in your particular case – a trial, mediation, or other informal means – our goal is always your well-being and best interests. Contact us today to learn more about or expert family law services.

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