The coronavirus pandemic caused a number of legal processes to slow down as courts closed around the country and various hearings and trials were delayed. Those who were dealing with family law issues such as child custody and divorces were most affected, as it is not always easy to simply delay family problems and some situations require emergency hearings.
Pandemic delays custody issues and causes hearings to be cancelled
In addition to the health concerns that families were dealing with to try to stay safe during the virus outbreak, many parents found that their custody hearings or motions for modifications were cancelled or postponed for months.
The general advice from most therapists and other family professionals was to try to do as much as possible to keep a parenting schedule in place. Even if the courts may not technically enforce these plans due to shutdowns, it does not mean that either parent should take advantage of the situation and demand extra custody time or immediate changes. This is even true for situations where exchanging custody might technically violate a stay at home order. Psychologists agree that the stress and trauma associated with having school and most other activities cancelled can be minimized by giving children some sense of order and normalcy.
Serious deviations from custody orders can possibly be brought up in court at a later time, which may cause a judge to take action in the future. Remember that once a custody order is in place, it is still legally binding and no deviations should be made until a judge approves other arrangements. If there are serious health concerns or other emergencies that disrupt custody plans, it is important to talk to your family lawyer and document the issue so that it does not become a problem in court weeks later. Other obligations such as child support remain in place as well, and there will be serious consequences if payments are not made, despite the problems caused by the pandemic. There were even stories of parents who were behind on child support payments having their stimulus checks intercepted to pay the delinquent amount.
Emergency hearings assisted by technology
If there is an immediate issue with child support or custody it may be possible to schedule a remote or virtual hearing with a judge. Depending on your jurisdiction, these services may be available and they should be treated exactly the same as an in person court proceeding, which includes getting legal representation.
Get help from a lawyer in the state of Alabama
There are experienced divorce and family law attorneys in the Mobile, Alabama area to assist you with any concerns. To speak with someone, contact:
74 Midtown Park W, Suite 100, Mobile AL, 36606