We are living through some very strange and challenging times; the government mandated order to stay home in an effort to quarantine and slow the spread of covid-19 has created many challenges for divorced and separated parents who share custody. At Hobson & Hobson, we are still actively working with our clients via email, phone and video conferencing. While the courts are not currently open, it’s important to understand that most of family law happens outside of the courts.
Yes, the courts have issued a Judicial State of emergency that has suspended all court hearings until April 11th. There are still methods like arbitration and mediation that will allow you to resolve issues through the courts. If you have questions on that, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Yes, Chris Hobson our lead family attorney will be providing videos weekly to update what’s happening with the courts as well as give best practices and tips for how to co-parent through these unprecedented times.
Obviously, the corona virus and quarantine has had a major impact on many people’s financial situation. That is likely going to cause many people to struggle to adhere to their court order and make the required alimony (spousal support) and / or child support payment.
When you do not make the court-ordered payment, your co-parent will be able to file a petition or a motion for contempt, effectively informing the court that you did not make the required payment.
It is an important to make between a distinction between Contempt and Willful Contempt. If you have the money and simply choose to not follow the court-ordered payment, that is willful contempt and you can be put in jail for it. However, if you do not have the money and are making a reasonable effort to communicate to the other parent that you will make the payment when you can, you will NOT be put in jail for this.
1. Communicate – In Writing
Send a text or an email or a letter; something that you can refer to later that informs them that you are going to be unable to make the scheduled payment. Be transparent, communicate and keep good records.
2. Use the Flexibility that is Available To You
Make sure that you’re taking advantage of the flexibility that is available to you. Student loans, credit card companies and many other lenders have forgiveness available. If you are up to date on all of your other payments but did NOT make the court-ordered support payment, that could cause issues.
On March 14th the court issued a Judicial State of Emergency throughout Georgia closing all of the courts until April 13th; we think that’s likely going to be extended out through April, but we will keep you updated.
There was a clarification issued around what we talked about in the last video; basically, that even though school is not currently in session, those pick-up / drop-off / start / end dates for parenting time do NOT change.
If you are being denied parenting time based on lack of school schedule or your co-parent is using the Covid-19 situation to defy a court order that you have in place there is help available. You can file a motion with the court and ask for a conference with a judge and we can get instructions from the judge instructing both parties how to proceed. So re-enforcing that you should be adhering to the existing parenting plan.
We are providing free consultations and have special pricing available to help you resolve covid-19 and quarantine related custody issues. We are here to help you through these challenging times.
We have three options for the first meeting with a member of Hobson & Hobson, click here to read about how to take the first step.
136 Fairgrounds St NE
Marietta, GA, 30060
141 Railroad Street, Suite 202
Canton, GA, 30114