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Practical Tips for Avoiding Pandemic Pitfalls during Divorce

Practical Tips for Avoiding Pandemic Pitfalls during Divorce

If you have concerns about how the COVID-19 virus will affect your divorce, or you are contemplating divorce and the impact of starting the process amidst the pandemic, you are not alone. While it may seem like an uncertain time to press forward, there are many who may actually benefit from getting started sooner rather than later. Depending on your circumstances, there may be time-sensitive issues that should be addressed as soon as possible. Furthermore, taking a passive approach to certain matters, such as parenting schedules or support, could put you at risk and ultimately cost you in the long run. Here are a few common areas of concern along with some practical tips to help guide your decision.

Access to the Courts

While the courts have implemented limited schedules to comply with state and local regulations to help slow the spread of the virus, they have also taken steps to adapt and allow for certain matters to be heard virtually or telephonically. Furthermore, despite the fact the courts’ typical family law dockets are on hold, the courts remain open to address emergency issues, including financial emergencies. Most courts have also issued temporary orders and guidelines to help parties navigate the current protocols for non-emergency matters, such as how to facilitate child exchanges during ‘stay-home’ orders, methods for rearranging visitation to accommodate for Covid-19 concerns, and again, some possible steps to obtain relief from your support obligations in the event the pandemic has caused you financial hardship.. Finally, courts are still accepting new filings and materials; therefore, even if the court is unable to hold a hearing on certain types of motions in the immediate future, the date of filing (and notice to the other party) will play an important part in the court’s decision on the matter when it is eventually heard. 

Availability of Counsel

Another common concern may be, given the ‘shelter in place’ and ‘stay home’ guidelines currently in place, it could be difficult to find or access an attorney. Fortunately, this is not the case. Our experienced family law team at Gevurtz Menashe is not only well versed in supporting families through tough times, but available by phone or video to meet and discuss any concerns you may have. While we are taking the appropriate precautions to limit the spread of the virus, we are also fully operational and ready to assist you with any questions or needs you may have in your family law case. 

Financial Implications

The full financial impact of the pandemic has yet to be seen, but many people have already experienced a loss of net worth or income as a result. If you are experiencing financial hardship and have concerns about support, whether you are currently unable to meet your support obligations or you are not receiving the support you need, we can help. If your retirement or investment accounts have taken a hit and you have questions about how to divide them fairly in the context of your divorce, now would be an especially good time to speak to an attorney, financial planner, or tax professional.  

Real Estate 

For many families, one major concern is what to do with the family home or other real estate they own. The parties may have anticipated selling the house or offsetting the home’s value with other assets to allow one party to keep the home. This begs the question of how the coronavirus and its impact on the economy will affect the real estate market and the value of the home. Fortunately, real estate has been deemed ‘essential’ and business is moving forward in both Oregon and Washington with some new safety parameters to protect sellers and buyers. Furthermore, mortgage rates are low, so it is not necessarily a bad time to sell or refinance!

Parenting and Visitation

School closures have created unexpected and unprecedented issues with regard to parenting and visitation in family law cases. The safety and well-being of children remains our top priority and courts expect parents to conduct themselves accordingly. Our firm has been diligent to stay current on requirements, recommendations, and guidelines governing parenting issues in both Oregon and Washington. Generally speaking, the presence of the virus in your state or county, in and of itself, should not affect a parent’s ability to exercise his or her parenting time. Furthermore, the exchange of children to effectuate parenting time has been deemed ‘essential.’ If you have specific questions about the circumstances in your case, our team is here to help you. 

We Can Help

In a time of crisis, thoughtful lawyers look for ways to apply pre-existing authority to evolving situations. Our team at Gevurtz Menashe has nearly 40 years of experience handling difficult family law issues and we are well-versed in helping families through crisis. Call or contact us online to learn more.

*This is general information only and not meant to provide specific legal advice. *

Authored by family law attorneys, Erica Aquadro and Emily Roberts. Erica and Emily are  members of  both the Oregon & Washington State Bar(s) and focus their practice exclusively on family law issues such as divorce, parenting and custody issues, child and spousal support.