A joke within the Family Law Bar is that the answer to most questions that clients or prospective clients ask is usually it depends. Due to COVID-19 that response is even more common and frustrating than it was before COVID-19. Attorneys and Judges have never experienced this situation before. They do not know what will happen, or how COVID-19 affects each family and the consequences of ruling that are made. The Judges are doing their very best; however, new information is coming out frequently. Thus, a ruling made yesterday in one case may not be the same tomorrow based on new information and new potential consequence.
I really do not know
Clients are growing frustrated when they ask their attorneys for legal advice and the answer is…. I really do not know. Who wants to hear that from their attorney? That is the true answer and the best one to provide to a client in order to avoid any unrealistic expectations of an outcome in your case. However, it is not assuring and it does not make for an easy decision on how to strategize or proceed with your case.
The New Normal
The courts are doing their very best to protect families in and outside of the courtroom, but with the new normal a learning curve has to be expected.
Parents must do the best job they can to keep children stable, safe, and feeling secure. This will not be accomplished with parents who cannot agree that the sky is blue. Parenting styles are different, but that does not make one superior over the other. It is time, now more than ever, to focus on what is best for your children. Find out how to de-escalate any additional stress fighting parents can cause minor children.
Dealing with a Family Law case during COVID-19 brings on additional challenges that families did not have to worry about before. However, they are real, and they are different for each individual person. This is the new reality and the Courts are making great strides to ensure that parties are not abusing COVID-19 and using it as an excuse to withhold time-sharing. Those parents that are, will likely be sanctioned by the Court if found that their withholding time-sharing was not reasonable. The Courts have already advised that they will be ordering make-up time -sharing for time missed due to COVID-19 (Orange County).
More than ever, this is a time to be safe, flexible, and cooperative. Be careful to keep your children’s best interests at heart; which is more important than any dislike for the other parent.