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Divorce and COVID-19: The Courts are closed so now what?

If you are counting on the Courts to resolve the issues of your divorce you may be waiting for a while…a long, long while. The San Diego Courts closed last week and in their announcement indicated they would not reopen until April 6, 2020. With the impact that the virus has had on other Countries it is hard to imagine the Courts being back open for business in such a short period of time. If nothing else the current closure will certainly create scheduling delays with having matters heard by the Court.

Except for emergencies, divorcing couples do not have the Court available to address problems that come up. I received a call from a client this morning who had just been laid off and will be applying for unemployment but has suffered a substantial reduction in his income available for support. Typically, we would quickly file a motion to ask for at least a temporary reduction to the support orders. The rule has been that you lose the ability to modify the support until a motion has been filed with the Court. It is yet to be seen what will happen in this type of situation where someone is ready to file a motion but there is not Court available to receive the motion.

On the other side of the coin, the other household will be impacted because there are no longer wages to have automatic support paid from. If the payor spouse does not voluntarily contribute support from their unemployment check there may be challenges collecting support at even a reduced rate without the Court available to help with issuing new orders including wage assignment orders.

The temporary solution is the same solution I propose to each couple I work with. Let’s have the couple figure this out on their own without the Court. The couple, with the help of a neutral professional, are in the best position to understand what is best for their family. If there is less money, adjustments will need to be made. How do we keep both households afloat given the change? Out of Court solutions require two people who are willing to work with each other to come up with a solution. The option of divorced and divorcing couples is to either commit to working with each other now, or wait on addressing any problems until the Courts are back on line, whenever that may be. Let A Healthy Divorce help you address these challenges from the comfort of your own home through education, cooperation and communication so you can find an acceptable path forward now.

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