How will the COVID-19 pandemic and closures affect your family law case?

Your LJBLegal Team is taking a proactive approach to providing continued legal services to our current and prospective clients.

Our team is prepared and confident in our ability to continue to serve you to the best of our ability.

Your case is important, and we are continuing to work on all of our clients' matters BUT….

As you may already know, the spread of COVID-19 has led to court closures across the country and specifically in Louisiana. 

Additionally, Louisiana is under a stay-at-home order and all non-essential workplaces are closed.

What do the COVID-19 closures mean for your divorce or custody case?

A few things:How will Covid-19 affect my divorce or child custody case?

  1. Because of the court closures cases – most non-emergency matters are not proceeding to trial and other cases matters are not being heard by a judge.
  2. Access to courts are limited for filing, hearings, trials, etc. and most judges are continuing (postponing) all non-emergency situations until sometime in the future for now.

What if I have a current parenting plan or custody order, and I am fearful for my child to leave my house in accordance with the stay-at-home order?

We understand that many of our clients are worried about sending their children to another house during this current crisis. 

Likewise, we have clients who are equally concerned that the other parent will use the quarantine to stop scheduled custody, visitation, and time with them.

These are both very valid and serious concerns.

The Louisiana Stay-At-Home Order specifically permits travel between family member homes.  This means to the extent possible and practical you should continue to abide by the order currently in place.  This means continuing with exchanges and following the parenting plan or custody order.

In our opinion, this crisis provides an opportunity for parents to work together for the best interest of the children.  Regardless of what the parenting plan or custody order says if one parent has to work while the other does not – it is probably a good idea to be flexible during the crisis.  The kids will benefit.  If an agreement cannot be reached in this situation, we have not seen this qualify for an emergency situation for a court hearing.

Now, if one of the parents have or have been exposed to COVID-19, please take all necessary precautions to protect the child(ren) from exposure.  If an agreement cannot be reached in such a situation, this may qualify as an emergency situation. 

We implore everyone to work together in the best interest of their children.

What about child support, spousal support, or community property payments – do these need to be made during the crisis?

We understand that many people are out of work due to the current crisis.  Making it harder for some to pay support at this time while making that support that much more needed at the same time.

We are not aware of any court order limiting any party’s obligation to fulfill their child support, spousal support or community property obligations.  Generally speaking, these obligations are not suspended because of the crisis.

However, as a practicable matter, this again begs for an agreement or accommodation between the parties in light of the current crisis.  

Failure for these payments to be made are not being handled as emergency situations by courts during the crisis. 

As such, if an agreement cannot be reached, the courts will likely not address this until sometime in the future. 

Additionally, we do not see this as a bad faith situation in most cases – however, the facts of every case are different so if bad faith does exist, make sure to document for the appropriate time.

How will the COVID-19 pandemic and closures affect my unique family law case?

Just because courts are closed in our area does not mean you are out of legal options.

A good attorney can accomplish a lot outside of the courtroom.

Consulting an attorney does cost money, but a qualified attorney can offer an enormous amount of information in just a short phone call. If nothing else, calling an attorney can help you figure out your situation and understand what to do next.

If you have questions about your specific case or situation, please give us a call at 985-240-9773.

 

Loyd J. Bourgeois
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Disability, Personal Injury, and Divorce Attorney
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