The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every part of our lives over the last few weeks. Many businesses and government operations, including courthouses, were forced to close its doors to the public until further notice.
Fortunately, Claery & Hammond, LLP remains open and available for our current and prospective clients over the phone or through video conferencing. We have recently received many questions about how the coronavirus outbreak will affect both newly initiated cases and ongoing case.
The following is an overview of the most frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 and divorce:
Question: How has California’s “stay at home” order charged the divorce process?
Answer: Since the ordinance discourages gatherings of up to ten people, the most significant change is the closing of the courts. Only emergency family law cases, such as restraining orders and ex-parte family law proceedings, will be heard in Los Angeles County from March 20 to April 16, for the time being. When it comes to divorce, couples can still resolve their disputes through mediation and binding arbitration, which are both more efficient and cost-effective way to resolve divorce issues.
Q: Can I still file for divorce or modify a court order?
A: Although the clerk’s offices are closed, you may still file divorce and modification petitions. You can either file your documents through fax or drop them off at the courthouse, which has drop boxes outside. Keep in mind, you need to pay the filing fees or submit a fee waiver. In addition, you must submit a self-addressed envelope and the necessary copies, if applicable.
Q: How does the outbreak affect my custody order or parenting plan?
A: Current custody orders and parenting plans remain in effect with no changes. Yet, school closures and cancelled family trips weren’t taken into consideration. Both parents must do their best to cooperate and amicably resolve issues for the best interests of their children.
Q: Do I continue paying child support after losing my job?
A: California Child Support Services understand that many paying parents are suffering from financial hardship after losing their jobs and worrying about missed-payment penalties. You should immediately contact your caseworker and notify them about your current situation. Getting laid is also demonstrates a change in circumstances that may qualify you for modification.
Remember, these answers are subject to change according to how long these stay at home orders remain in place. Our firm is ready to provide compassionate and knowledgeable legal help and answering any questions about your case.
For more information about how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting your case, contact Claery & Hammond, LLP today at (310) 817-6904 and request a free consultation.